Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Jerry May (#598)

Ladies and Gentlemen, the last card in the 1968 set: #598 Jerry May! He had just completed his first season as the Pirates #1 catcher. Unfortunately for him, he would only hold that job for one more season, as Manny Sanguillen would take over the post in 1969. Jerry moved on to the Royals for 1971.

May was originally a pitcher and outfielder, and was signed by the Pirates in 1961. He was converted to catcher, and played in the minors for the next 5 seasons. (He also played some outfield in his first pro season.)

Although he made his big-league debut in September 1964, and played a few games in 1965, May didn’t stick with the Bucs until the start of the 1966 season. That year, he was the team’s 3rd-string catcher behind Jim Pagliaroni and Jesse Gonder.

In 1967, May took over the starting role in game #10, and started 61 of the next 77 games behind the plate, with Pagliaroni as the main backup. Jerry missed all the games from 7/20 – 8/9, and with Gonder having shipped out in mid-June, the catching chores were handled by the veteran Pag and rookie call-up Manny Sanguillen during May’s absence. When May returned to the lineup on August 10th, he started most of the remaining games, with Sanguillen getting 12 starts.

Manny spent all of 1968 in the minors getting the proverbial “seasoning”, so Jerry started 128 games in his final season as a regular. Pagliaroni had been dealt to Oakland in the off-season, so Chris Cannizzaro and Carl Taylor filled in behind May.

In 1969 Jerry made only 50 starts, as Sanguillen won the starting job in April. He found even less playing time in 1970, and after the season was traded to the Royals (with shortstop Freddie Patek and pitcher Bruce Dal Canton) for pitcher Bob Johnson, shortstop Jackie Hernandez, and catcher Jim Campanis.

May split the catching chores in 1971 with ex-Angels’ outfielder Ed Kirkpatrick, and was Ed’s backup in 1972. Jerry started the first 6 games in 1973, but soon lost out to the tandem of Fran Healy and ex-Pirates teammate Carl Taylor.

In mid-May he moved on to the Mets, who released him 2 months later after having played in only 4 games. The Pirates picked him up 3 weeks later and assigned him to their AAA team for the rest of the season. In January 1974 the Twins purchased his contract, but Jerry never played after 1973.

May died in a farming accident in June 1996 at age 52.

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