One of the most consistent power hitters of his time, the hulking May hit 20-plus
HR and 80-plus RBI in 11 seasons, but always seemed aboout to be replaced by "the
future." First, Tony Perez
's emergence as an RBI threat prompted the Reds to trade
May to the Astros in an eight-player deal in 1971, with Joe Morgan
the primary acquisition.
After May spent three years in Houston, the emergence of Bob Watson
prompted a trade
to Baltimore in 1975. After six seasons with the Orioles, Eddie Murray
came up to
prompt May's final move, to Kansas City in 1981. His expendability may have been
caused by his average fielding ability and his tendency to strike out: he fanned
1,570 times in 18 years, high on the all-time list. Ten times he struck out more
than 100 times in a season.
May, whose younger brother Carlos came up with the
White Sox, reached the majors with the Reds in 1965, but didn't become a regular
until 1967. He was an early cog in the Big Red Machine, hitting .290 in 1968, and
had his best season in 1969, with 38 HR and a career-high 110 RBI. Brooks Robinson
stole the 1970 World Series for the Orioles, but May hit two HR and drove in eight
runs in the five-game series. His second homer was a clutch three-run shot in the
eighth inning to give the Reds their lone victory, 6-5, and snapped the Orioles'
17-game winning streak.