May Swinging Torrid Bat to Retain Bucco Mitt Job

Filed under Pittsburgh Pirates
April 19, 1969

Some people have trouble spelling Manny Sanguillen’s name. Jerry May has no trouble. To May, Sanguillen spells challenge. Jerry’s status as the No. 1 Pirate catcher job was in jeopardy a few months ago. Larry Shepard kept telling people that May, a two-year regular, would have to beat out Sanguillen in spring training to retain the regular job,

“I knew that I had to fight for my job,” May said. “That’s why I took so much batting practice. Every time I had a chance, I was swinging a bat. If I couldn’t find a pitcher who would throw to me, I’d go to the iron-mike machine.” After two seasons of batting .235 and .203, May is currently batting .270, but is surprising everyone but leading baseball with 5 home runs in the early going. He hit only 3 in his last 243 games spanning the last two seasons. May has retained his status as No. 1 backstop.

This is May’s fourth full season with the Bucs and he is only a few months older than Sanguillen. Both are 25. Jerry welcomes Sanguillen’s presence because it will give him a chance to take a breather sometimes this summer. It wasn’t that way a year ago, and May wore down under the strain of catching every day. “May is No. 1,” said manager Shepard, “but he won’t work seven days a week. I hope to use Jerry five games a week, then Sanguillen also can get a chance. Maybe someday Sanguillen will be our No. 1 man, but not now. It has to be May. He is a solid defensive man, and we are looking forward to some long balls from him.”

It is Shepard’s theory that Harry Walker, ex-Buc manager, confused May as a hitter. “I have great respect for Walker as a batting instructor,” Shep said, “but I don’t agree with his theory on May. He wanted Jerry to try to punch the ball to right field. Jerry is a big man, he has power. He has to use it.” Buc coach Bill Virdon made some adjustments in May’s batting this spring.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *