Tuesday, December 17, 2013

no. 243 - carlos may

Who is the man: Carlos May had just completed a much-heralded comeback season in 1970 after he blew off part of his right thumb while cleaning a mortar unit when serving in the Marine reserves in the summer of 1969.

Can ya dig it: May's thumb was an obsession of mine as a kid, which I detailed before. In this picture, the thumb part of his right hand is covered up by a batting glove and May's left hand.

Right on: I'm assuming May's accident happened after his photo for his 1970 Topps card was taken (photos were often taken during the previous year's spring training then). Yet, his 1970 Topps card goes out of its way to obscure his right thumb from view. Perhaps, Topps specifically chose that photo after learning of the accident. But you can see May's right thumb in his 1977 Topps Big League brothers card with Lee May.

You see this cat May is a bad mother: Playing eight years in the major leagues after losing a thumb is pretty bad-ass, but so is being the only major leaguer to wear his birth date on his uniform, which May did every May 17th.

Shut your mouth: Wikipedia claims that Carlos and Lee May were the first brothers to appear in the same All-Star Game when they did so in 1969. But SABR reports that Mort and Walker Cooper of the Cardinals were the batteries for the National League in the All-Star Game in 1942 and 1943.

No one understands him but his woman: In the book "What It Means To Be A White Sox," by Bob Vorland, May said that in his first game back after the accident, the fans gave him a standing ovation and he cried at home plate.

(A word about the back): As a kid pulling this card out of a pack, it had to be quite a thing to read "after losing a thumb" on the back.


  1. What a great story about his comeback. I've seen the 1977 card before, but didn't know about the thumb.

  2. May was the Yankees de facto DH in 1976 after they acquired him from the White Sox early in the season, but by that point in his career most of the pop from his bat was gone. The Yanks got Jim Wynn in the offseason to compliment May as a left/right batter platoon, but both were pretty much washed up and were released during the 1977 season. Cliff Johnson came from the Astros in a mid-season trade and was an unsung hero for the team as their new DH. May's final at-bat with with the Angels in October '77.