Lee May: All Bases Loaded

Lee May was born March 23, 1943 in Birmingham, Alabama. As an outstanding two sport athlete he earned a scholarship offer from the University of Nebraska to play football. However the Cincinnati Reds were more interested in him; signing him to an amateur free agent contract with a $12,000 bonus in the summer of 1961. That same year Lee May made his professional debut playing in the minor leagues with the Tampa Tarpons. This was a developmental league affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds. He would continue to be promoted and climb the ranks over the next four years. During this time he experienced racism and prejudice from white fans of opposing teams as well as his own team. Having his most successful year in the minors during 1964, he was called up and made his major league debut on September 1, 1965 with the Cincinnati Reds. He hit his first major league home run on September 24, 1966 against the New York Mets. It ended up being the game winning home run. After a stellar training camp and productive off-season he was named rookie of the year by The Sporting News. For the next two years he was an integral part of the greatest offense in Major League Baseball. His down to earth personality often lead to him mediating clubhouse disputes and issues. During 1970, Lee May hit the last ever home run at Crosley Field during the park’s concluding game. During the same year, May was the standout player for the Reds in the world series and carried them to their only victory of the series against the Baltimore Orioles. Two years later he was traded to the Houston Astros. With their team lacking the power that Lee May possessed, he was a good fit. Over the next 10 years he would continue to make his impact playing for the Baltimore Orioles and then Kansas City Royals before deciding to leave the game finally in 1982 at the age of 39. Earning Hall of Fame honors in two major league clubs as well as the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame, he indeed made his mark. Lee May passed away on July 29, 2017 at age 74 of pneumonia.

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