Three-time All-Star slugger Lee May dies

Powerful first baseman played for Reds, Astros, Orioles, Royals

July 30th, 2017
Lee May was a National League All-Star in 1970 and '72 while with the Reds and '73 while with the Astros.

The baseball family lost a valued member on Saturday when former Major League slugger Lee May died at the age of 74 in Cincinnati.

A cause of death has not been revealed.

May, a first baseman and designated hitter known as "Big Bopper," launched 354 home runs in 18 seasons for the Reds (1965-71), Astros (1972-74), Orioles (1975-80) and Royals (1981-82). He was an early member of the Big Red Machine and stepped up big time during the 1970 World Series against the Orioles, batting .389 with two doubles, two home runs and eight RBIs in the five-game series, won by Baltimore.

One of those homers was a go-ahead shot off reliever Eddie Watt in the eighth inning of Game 4 that denied the Orioles a four-game sweep. May also helped give Orioles future Hall of Fame third baseman Brooks Robinson the nickname "Hoover" for his legendary defensive performance in that Series.

May was a three-time All-Star, once in 1969 when he had 38 homers and 110 RBIs, again in 1971 when he hit 39 homers, and once again in 1972 when he drove in 98 runs for the Astros, who had acquired him the previous offseason in a blockbuster eight-player trade that sent future Hall of Fame second baseman Joe Morgan from Houston to Cincinnati. The Reds also acquired pitcher Jack Billingham, outfielders Cesar Geronimo and Ed Armbrister and third baseman Denis Menke in that deal.

"We are deeply saddened to lose the Big Bopper," said Rick Walls, executive director of the Reds Hall of Fame and Museum. "Lee May was a friend of the Hall and of everyone with whom he came in contact. Our condolences go out to Lee's family during this difficult time. We will always remember him for his contributions to the Reds, but also for his humor and genuine kindness."

Traded by Houston to Baltimore after the 1974 season in a four-player swap that sent Enos Cabell to the Astros, May led the American League with 109 RBIs in 1976. He batted .254 with 123 homers in six seasons with Baltimore and retired after the 1982 season with a career .267 batting average and 1,244 RBIs.

May was inducted into the Orioles Hall of Fame in 1998 and the Reds Hall of Fame in 2006. He is survived by his wife, Terrye, and three children, including Lee May Jr., a coach in the Red Sox organization, according to the Orioles.

The Orioles said they will honor May in a ceremony prior to Monday's game against the Royals.