I was at our local AA Texas League team (Springfield Cardinals) the other night when the shortstop came up, hitting about .217, when it flashed on the board that he is hitting .260 at home. The scoreboard told us another player was hitting .278 in the 3rd inning. One of my colleagues was at the game with me and was asking me about those obscure stats and why they put them up. I told him it sounded to me like (unintentionally) damning with faint praise.
I tell that story because of Jerry May's card back. He had significant playing time for the Pirates in the late 70's and was around a half-time catcher for the Royals in 1971, their first really good year. Heck, his first 2 minor league seasons were pretty good. However, Topps chooses to tell us about his 6 American Legion no-hitters, which would have had to have been from 1958-1961. In order to say something nice about Jerry, they had to go back to talk about him no-hitting high schoolers in Virginia in the Eisenhower administration. Jerry must not have hit very well in the 3rd inning.
Jerry was involved in one of those lopsided Royals trades in the early 70's. He, Freddie Patek and Bruce Dal Canton came for Jackie Hernandez, Bob Johnson and a bag of chips. Jerry didn't hang around long with the Royals. He split time in 1971, but his hitting fell off in 1972 and by 1973 they sold him to the Mets and he was released after 4 games in 2 months.
Jerry was a good fielder and kind of got Wally Pipped in Pittsburgh. As mentioned above, he was the Pirates' number one catcher starting in 1967 until crashed into a dugout in Montreal in 1969. He was taken to the hospital by ambulance. The ambulance then had a crash and that injured Jerry's right (throwing) shoulder. Manny Sanguillen replaced him and he was never the same. Talk about circumstances that "verily stinketh."
He also caught Dock Ellis' LSD no-hitter in 1970. Dock said the only thing that let him know where to throw the ball (other than when the ball told him where to throw it) was zeroing in on the reflective tape Jerry wore on his fingers. I suppose he must have been able to surmise Dock's condition and made allowances.
On June 7, 1972, Pittsburgh and San Diego played a double header that was 2 games of dichotomies. The first game was a slugfest, Pirates got ahead early and pounded the Padres, 12-5. Four Pirates and one Padre had 3 hits. Willie Stargell hit 2 homers and drove in 5. The Padres had to use 5 pitchers just to record 27 outs.
In the nightcap, they went 18 innings before the Pirates were able to push one across and win 1-0. The game only lasted 4:27, shorter than a typical 9-inning Yankee-Red Sox or any playoff game nowdays. Dave Cash and Stargell had 3 hits in both games. Spots 5-9 in the Pirate order went 3-36. The Padres only got 6 hits in 18 innings off 5 Pirate pitchers. Because the Padres had shredded their bullpen in the opener, Clay Kirby went 13 scoreless innings and Mike Corkins pitched the other 5. The Padres never really threatened. The Pirates got a runner to 3rd with less than 2 outs only twice in the first 17 innings. The Pittsburgh Lumber Company scored with some unusual small ball in the 18th. They led off with infield singles by Al Oliver and Willie Stargell. Those 2 "speed demons" then executed a double steal (I'm sure catcher Fred Kendall had to be dumbfounded). Corkins then struck out Richie Hebner and intentionally walked Bill Mazeroski to set up the inning-ending double play. He then walked Gene Alley to force in a run. He got out of the inning by fanning Manny Sanguillen and getting Clemente to ground out, but that was it. What a game.
Also, the Padres first round draft pick, Dave Roberts, who was just drafted a couple of days ago, made his major league debut in this double-header. Don Leshnock of the Tigers played in his only game. He pitched the 9th inning of a 5-1 loss to the Angels. He got Leo Cardenas on a grounder and struck out Nolan Ryan. Sandy Alomar and Mickey Rivers then got base hits before he struck out Vada Pinson. Don can say his K/9IP ratio of 18.00 was even better than Ryan's.
Baseball card stories from Anthony Pluta
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