Craig Calcaterra

Blogger at NBC Sport.com's HardballTalk. Recovering litigator. Rake. Scoundrel. Notorious Man-About-Town.
Associated Press

Three-time All-Star Lee May dies at age 74

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Sad news: Lee May, the three-time All-Star who played for the Reds, Astros, Orioles and Royals, has died. He was 74.

May broke into the big leagues with the Reds in 1965. He’s spend seven seasons in Cincy, where he hit .274/.321/.490 and 147 of his 354 career homers. His peak years came in Cincy as well where, between 1968 and 1971, he hit .275/.324/.503 with 132 homers and 382 RBI in that four season span. His Reds won the pennant in 1970 and May hit .389/.450/.833 in a losing cause in the 1970 Fall Classic.

May was famously traded to the Astros before the 1972 season in a blockbuster deal: he, Tommy Helms and Jimmy Stewart went to Houston in exchange for Eddie Armbrister, Jack Billingham, Cesar Geronimo, Denis Menke and future Hall of Famer Joe Morgan. While this deal was certainly won by the Reds — Morgan would win two MVP awards in Cincinnati and he, Geronimo and Billingham would serve as key components of three-time pennant-winning and two-time World Series champion Big Red Machine — May continued his fine slugging in Houston, hitting 88 homers and driving in 288 runs in the next three seasons. He’d slug well for a solid decade, actually: between 1969 and 1978, only Reggie Jackson, Johnny Bench, and Willie Stargell out-homered him.

May was dealt to Baltimore before the 1975 season. While with the Orioles he completed the final four years of his 11-season streak in which he hit 20 homers or more. His Orioles would win 90 or more games in five of his six seasons and 88 games in the other. Twice his Orioles teams won 100 games. May would see action in the 1979 World Series, but not much. By then May had been supplanted at first base by a young Eddie Murray, with May serving mostly as as designated hitter. Back in those days the DH was only present in the World Series on an alternating year basis, no matter the home team, so May would only pinch hit.

Mat would play his final two seasons as a part timer with the Royals, retiring after the 1982 season. He’d stay with the Royals as their hitting coach, however, and finally got that elusive World Series ring in 1985.

Rest in Peace, Lee May.