Jerry Lee May was born on December 14, 1943 at Staunton, Virginia. May was originally a pitcher & outfielder playing in American Legion ball back in 1961.
The six foot two right handed hitting May, was signed by the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1961. He hit 21 HRs batting .284 in the A ball NY Penn League in 1962. He never hit that well again, playing three more seasons in the minors making a few brief appearances with the Pirates during the 1964-1966 seasons.
May had a strong throwing arm and was excellent at gunning down base stealers. In 41 games in 1966 he threw out 63% of would be base stealers. Over the next five years he would throw out over 40% of base stealers attempting to steal. He became the Pirate regular catcher in 1967 batting .271with 3 HRs 13 doubles & 22 RBIs in 110 games.
In 1968 he played a career high 137 games but fell off to a .219 average with 15 doubles, just one HR & 33 RBIs.
In 1969 he was back as the starting catcher until July 14, 1969, when he crashed into the dugout in Montreal's Jarry Park.
May had to be taken to the hospital & on the way his ambulance got into an accident, injuring his right shoulder. He was replaced by rookie Manny Sanguillen, who remained at the Pirates catchers position the next eight years batting over .290 six times.
In 1970 May would only catch 51 games but he threw out 50% of would be base stealers, the best percentage in the league. He only hit .209 overall on the year, but on June 12th he had a memorable day.
May was behind the plate wearing reflective tape on his finger tips so Doc Ellis could see the signs as well as the target.
That day Ellis forgot he was supposed to pitch & was tripping on LSD when the team finally got hold of him. They got him to the ball park & Ellis He went out tossing a no hitter that day against all odds.
That December May was traded to the Kansas City Royals with shortstop Freddie Patek in a six-player deal. He battled injuries again playing in the American League, batting .252 in 71 games but dropped off to .190 in 53 games the next season.
In the early part of the Mets 1973 NL Pennant season, the team was short on catchers when injuries set down Jerry Grote & Duffy Dyer early on in the season. The team needed catching help & some insurance as a back up. They purchased May’s contract from the Royals on May 12th and he briefly spent time with the 1973 Mets.
He made his Mets debut at Dodger Stadium catching Tom Seaver & getting two hits against the Dodgers in his first Mets game. He & Seaver were both long gone when the game ended 19 innings later in a 7-3 Mets win. May only appeared in four games as a Met, going 2-8 with a walk. He was released on July 10th then resigned with the Pirates, but never resurfaced on the major league level.
He caught in 525 career games with a .990 fielding percentage, throwing out 43% of would be base stealers. At the plate he batted .234 lifetime with 357 hits 15 HRs 63 doubles 10 triples & 130 RBIs.
Passing: In a tragic incident On June 30, 1996, May was killed in a farming accident in Swoope Virginia, at the age 52.