Our selection for the Baltimore Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Week is one of the forgotten sluggers of baseball history.
For more than a decade, including six seasons with the Baltimore Orioles, Lee May was one of the most feared sluggers in baseball.
He blasted 20 or more home runs and drove in 80 or more runs for 11 straight seasons while playing for the Cincinnati Reds, Houston Astros and then the Orioles. His best season was in 1969 when he hit 38 home runs and drove home 110.
Baltimore fans were first exposed to May during the 1970 World Series when the 6-foot-3 inch slugger was basically the offense for the Reds. He hit .389 with two home runs while driving home eight of Cincinnati’s 20 runs during the five-game series.
May was part of the trade that sent Joe Morgan from Houston to Cincinnati in 1972 and spent three seasons with the Astros before joining Baltimore in 1975.
Replacing popular, but aging, slugger Boog Powell at first base for the Orioles, May ranked among the top sluggers in baseball for his first four seasons in Baltimore.
After blasting 20 home runs and driving home 99 runs in 1975, May had his best season with the Birds in 1976 when he led the league with 109 RBI while hitting 25 home runs.
In his first four seasons with the Orioles, May averaged 24 home runs and 97 RBI. He played first base for the first three years, but the emergence of Eddie Murray necessitated the move to designated hitter in 1978.
May slowed slightly in 1979 with 19 home runs and 69 RBI as the Orioles won the AL East and reached the World Series.
He left Baltimore after the 1980 season and finished his career with two seasons in Kansas City.
For his career, May hit 354 home runs with 1,244 RBI. He is one of only 11 players to have a 100 RBI season with three different teams.
If you had a favorite athlete growing up that you would like to see featured as the Baltimore Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Week, send me a nomination by e-mail.