Note: This page is for 1970s outfielder Dave May; for the contemporary minor league pitcher of the same name, click here
David La France May
- Bats Left, Throws Right
- Height 5' 11", Weight 186 lb.
- High School William Penn High School (New Castle)
- Debut July 28, 1967
- Final Game October 1, 1978
- Born December 23, 1943 in New Castle, DE USA
- Died October 20, 2012 in Bear, DE USA
He was one of a huge number of future major league outfielders signed by the San Francisco Giants in the late 1950s and early 1960s. The Giants could not use all of those talented players, and May was one of the ones they let go, with the Baltimore Orioles picking him up in the 1962 first-year player draft. He came up to the major leagues with the Orioles in 1967, and played for them until 1970, although he never managed to earn a full-time job. In the trough of the second deadball era, he hit only .191 in 84 games in 1968, but improved to .242 in 1969. He got to bat once in the ALCS and once in the World Series that year as the Orioles were upset by the New York Mets.
On June 15, 1970, May was traded to the Milwaukee Brewers in return for pitchers Dick Baney and Buzz Stephen. He immediately became a starter in center field for the Brewers, playing 100 games the rest of the season, and hitting .240 with 7 homers and 31 RBI. In 1971, he improved to .277 with 16 homers and 65 RBI, and would be one of the mainstays of the Brewers offense through the end of the 1974 season. In his career year in 1973, he hit .303 with 23 doubles and 25 homers, scoring 96 runs and driving in 93 while collecting 190 hits. He played mainly right field that season, after being the team's center fielder over the previous three seasons. He was seen as an emerging star at that point, but in fact, he was already 30 years old, and his best years were behind him. In 1974, he fell to .226 with 10 homers and 42 RBI, very poor production for someone who got 477 at-bats.
It was after the 1974 season that May's name entered the history books. Hank Aaron had broken Babe Ruth's all-time home run record with the Atlanta Braves that year, and was now looking to finish his career in the city where he had had his greatest success. The Braves accommodated him, sending him to Milwaukee, and asking for May in return, hoping for a bounce-back year. Minor leaguer Roger Alexander was also part of the deal, but he never played in the major leagues. It was a difficult situation for May, joining Atlanta as the man who was traded for an icon. His hitting bounced back to some extent in 1975, as he hit .276 with 12 homers and 40 RBI in 203 at-bats, but he never had a regular spot in the lineup, playing all three outfield positions. In 1976, he was again a part-timer, batting 214 times with a .215 average, 3 homers and 23 RBI.
Before the 1977 season, he was one of five players the Braves traded to the Texas Rangers in return for slugger Jeff Burroughs. He played a lot more for Texas, being the team's most-used right fielder his first season, when he hit .241 with 7 homers and 42 RBI. It was pretty clear that at 34, he was no longer able to be a full-time productive player, but he played one more season as a back-up after having been sold back to the Brewers early in the 1978 season. Mainly a pinch-hitter, he hit only .195 and was flipped to the Pittsburgh Pirates in mid-September, where he went 0 for 4 in his last major league action. He signed as a free agent with the Philadelphia Phillies in 1979 but, failing to make the team, played instead in the short-lived Inter-American League with the Santo Domingo Azucareros, hitting .265 in 44 games before the league folded in mid-season.
After his retirement, he returned to live in Delaware and was named to the Delaware Sports Hall of Fame. He died of cancer and diabetes at age 68 in 2012. He still had many friends around the game; his son Derrick reported at the time of his death that Willie Horton, Dusty Baker, Cito Gaston, Ralph Garr and Johnny Briggs had all called his father during his last week of life.
- AL All-Star (1973)
- AL Total Bases Leader (1973)
- 20-Home Run Seasons: 1 (1973)