His career as an Oriole was sandwiched between franchise legends, Boog Powell and Eddie Murray. So he doesn't get much attention anymore when Orioles first basemen are talked about, but God I loved Lee May. He also had the poor timing to be part of Orioles teams that were mostly competitive but not great. The O's had just gone to the post-season 5 out of the last six years when Lee May arrived in 1975. They didn't go back until his last full season of 1979. By then his star was getting eclipsed by the young Eddie.
Still in four years straight, 75 to 78, he mashed over twenty home runs for the O's. 1976 he led the American League in RBI with 109. OPS doesn't love him, never cracking 8 in his years here, but I did. He was a big dude who crushed the ball. And he looked so badass doing it. Not cool badass like Eddie later would. Fierce badass. He stood in the box stomping his left foot and shaking his bat like a bull about to charge.
My Little League coaches had a hell of time getting me to stop trying to do the same thing. I wasn't going to hit anything anyway, so they should have just let me have my fantasy. In the box, I was no longer a scrawny, squinting white kid. I was Lee May ... until the umpire told me to sit down.
I came to admire May even more later in life, when I learned how he mentored Eddie Murray. Here was this kid coming to take his job. Everybody knew it. But Lee May wasn't resentful. He wasn't naïve about where he was in his career path. Based on the stories Eddie told in the lead-up to his Cooperstown induction, Lee May slid over into the DH job with class and took Murray under his wing. He continued to take an interest in developing the next gen after he retired, serving as a hitting coach for KC for years.
Remember Lee May, O's fans. I always will.