If you want to confuse a 1980s baseball fan who has spent some time — but not enough time — acquainting himself with the diamond personalities of the 1960s, show him a 1960 Topps Lee Maye rookie card.

Trust me — I’m just that sort of fan. And I’ve been confused by Maye and his cards more than once.

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See, I’ve been a Reds fan since forever, and part of being a Reds fan is dipping back into the annals of the team to eras that predated my fandom (and my lifedom, for that matter).

Same as with fans of every team.

One of the names that always comes up in conversations and articles about great Reds before the Big Red Machine, and in card sets of that era, is Lee May.

By now, I know that May was a slugging first baseman and outfielder, that he played for the Reds for part of the 60s, that he played for some other teams, too, including the Astros and Orioles.

But I always have to look up his chronology.

Did he play for the Reds first (yes)?

Did he play in Cincy into the 1970s (yes)?

Did he play into the 1980s (yes)?

Part of the reason I have trouble remembering May’s particulars, I think, is that I missed him completely.

He was gone from the Reds by the time I was born, and he retired the year before I started following baseball (1982).

And then, just when I think I have a handle on the man who slugged 354 home runs in an era when that was a huge accomplishment, I run smackdab into Lee Maye again.

Usually, it’s in the form of his 1960 Topps rookie card, or another hunk of cardboard that predates May’s 1966 Topps RC.

Sure, those cards show Maye with the Braves, who (I think) May never played for.

And, yes, Maye swung left-handed, while May batted from the right side.

But these are two outfielders (at least sometimes) from the 1960s who I never saw play. So it doesn’t really matter that they don’t look alike at all.

To make matters worse, Maye appeared with the Astros on his 1966 Topps card.

Which always brings me full circle to … “When did May play for Astros?”

Or … “When did Maye play for the Reds?”

He didn’t of course.

And I always hope that maybe Baseball Reference can help differentiate for me … let’s see …

OK, Lee Maye was born in Alabama, while Lee May was born in … Alabama.


They have different first-middle name combos — Arthur Lee Maye and Lee Andrew May. Sort of helpful, but why did they both have to have “A” names? Why??

In the end, though, it just may be that name — Arthur Lee Maye — that helps me keep these guys straight once and for all, if such a thing is even possible.

Because, if you Google “Arthur Lee Maye,” you’ll find out in a hurry that Maye had two high-profile careers — one as a pro baseball player, and one as an R & B singer, including an extensive run with The Crowns.

Read a bit more, and you see that Maye prioritized baseball, saying:

Baseball was my first love. I could always sing at fifty, but I couldn’t play baseball at fifty.

And who wouldn’t love a dude who loved baseball first? And who also managed to work in a successful music career around and after his time on the diamond?

No one that I know.

So, maybe now that I know all of this about Lee Maye, I’ll remember that he and Lee May were different guys, with their own jams.


Or wishing for that continued clarity could just be “A Fool’s Prayer,” as Maye might say.

Hobby Hots

You can play off that music career of Maye’s, too, to add some unusual items to your collection. To wit, many of his records are available on eBay, as in this sneak peak …

Check current listings here (affiliate link).

Lot of 450 1960 Topps Baseball Cards! Good, Fair, and Poor Condition.

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1960 Topps Baseball cards Lot of 9 Vg/Ex

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1960 Topps Baseball Cards, complete your set

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