Thursday, April 23, 2015

MISSING IN ACTION-"IN ACTION" #35: 1972 LEE MAY

Today I give the "Big Bopper", Lee May a "missing" in-action card in the 1972 set.
Check it out:


You have to wonder what could have been with May, since he was already a feared slugger putting together a very nice career before he was traded to the Astros as part of the Joe Morgan trade before the 1972 season opened up.
Would the "Big Red Machine" have happened? If so, would May's legacy on the diamond have been elevated to the point of true stardom?
He put up big seasons with the Reds, the Astros, and then the Orioles before ending his career after two partial seasons with the Royals in 1982.
His total numbers are very good, especially for a guy who played the bulk of his career in the "dead" late-60's/early-70's: 959 runs, 2031 hits, 354 home runs and 1244 runs batted in.
His last year in Cincinnati, 1971, was killer: 39 homers with 98 R.B.I.'s, 85 runs scored and a .278 average to complement the likes of Pete Rose, Tony Perez and Johnny Bench.
Granted the guy struck out a ton, and his final batting average of .267 leaves a lot to be desired, but it's interesting to wonder "what could have been" with both his career and the legend of the Reds teams of the mid-70's.

7 comments:

  1. Great card! I remember being bummed that both Lee May and Joe Morgan were depicted as Astros on their respective 1972 regular issue cards...even though Morgan did receive a 'Traded' card later in the set. Maybe you could do up a "regular issue" 1972 Joe Morgan card showing him as a Red for this HUGE Reds fan? ;-)

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  2. I agree. I'd love to see one for 'lil Joe too.

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  3. I was trying to figure out a way for the Reds to get Morgan and still keep both Lee May AND Tony Perez, but I just couldn't find one. Remember the Reds also got Jack Billingham and Cesar Geronimo in that trade, so there were not too many pieces we want to fool with.

    Maybe if the Reds did NOT take Denis Menke to play third and kept Perez there...but that is still not positive enough for the Astros.

    The 1971 Reds did not have too many other pieces to deal that would not have messed up what became the big red machine in 1975/1976. The only player I can see that would have been good for the Astros, is Hal McCrae...he would have fit nicely in that ballpark in the OF and Bob Watson could have moved to 1B full time. Also the Reds could have thrown in 21 year-old Milt Wilcox...But McCrae was not yet a great player and Wilcox was still young, so that really couldn't have been an option. The only other player was Ross Grimsley a young lefty (with a topps all-star rookie trophy on his 1972 card) who they ended up trading for virtually nothing (Merv Rettemund, Junior Kennedy) just a few years later...but he did start over 60 games in 1972-73 for the Reds, so that may have counteracted many of the positives of keeping Lee.

    But if they could have kept Lee May somehow, that may have pushed them over the edge against the A's in the 1972 WS or the Mets in the 1973 NLCS.

    It is very interesting and a fun little "What if?". I enjoy those.

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    1. Excellent analysis. I've mentioned it on another post but I always felt bad for him and Tommy Helms and Hal McRae and Bernie Carbo. They were all from the Reds system so they were friends with guys like Rose, Bench and Perez. While Morgan gave them an added dimension of speed it must have been hard for those two to stand by and watch their old buddies win those two championships. If the NL had the DH perhaps May would hsve found a spot but he was gone before that was part of the game.

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  4. Seeing Lee May being depicted as a member of both the Houston Astros AND the Cincinnati Reds in the '72 Topps set reminds me of Larry Hisle in the '78 Topps set being depicted as both a member of the Milwaukee Brewers AND the Minnesota Twins. Did anyone else notice this?

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    1. hey! you know I never DID realize this! great catch Joe!

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  5. I forgot to mention that Hank Aaron is also depicted on two different teams -- the Braves and the Brewers -- in the '75 Topps set.

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