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Lee May – The Big Bopper from Birmingham

May 24, 2009
Lee May Super Veterans 1983 Topps

Lee May Super Veterans 1983 Topps

In 1983, Topps paid tribute to many of the enduring workhorses of the past three decades with its Super Veteran series. The series of cards was featured within its regular set and included the likes of  Johnny Bench, Sparky Lyle, Kent Tekulve, Jim Kaat and Lee May.

May was a consistant slugger on the early versions of the Big Red Machine clubs that dominated baseball in the 1970s.  After breaking in as a regular with the Cincinnati Reds in 1967, he went on to produced more than 20 home runs and more than 80 RBIs in 11 straight seasons from 1968-78.

In 1971, a season after losing to the Baltimore Orioles in the World Series, May led the Redlegs with a career high 39 home runs and 98 RBIs. Despite the power, he was soon displaced from his starting spot at first base in favor of Tony Perez.

May was traded following the 1971 season to the Houston Astros which allowed Cincinnati to acquire the final pieces of the Big Red Machine in second baseman Joe Morgan and center fielder Cesar Geronimo.

Lee May Super Veterans 1983 Topps

Lee May Super Veterans 1983 Topps

Despite playing in the cavernous Houston Astrodome, May managed to hit at least 24 homers in his three seasons with the Astros. He followed that up with six seasons in Baltimore before being replaced by another future Hall of Famer in Eddie Murray.

May finished his career as a designed hitter for two seasons with the Kansas City Royals. While the Super Veterans card suggests May played for the Royals in 1983, he was actually released by the club following the 1982 season after registering just 92 at bats in 42 games.

Following his retirement, May became a coach for the Royals (1984-86 and 1992-94), which included a World Series title in 1986, and two seasons with the Reds in 1988-89.

May wrapped up his career with 354 home runs, 2,301 hits and 1,244 RBIs. He was inducted into the Reds Hall of Fame in 2006.

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