Monday, November 18, 2013

Lee Maye (#595)

Here is Lee Maye’s 1969 card, where he leans in to dodge a high, hard gray circle whizzing behind his head.

I really liked this card when I got it back in the day. Was it the “windbreaker under the uniform” look? Maybe the 100-year MLB patch on his vest, or the crispness of a high-numbered card? No, I think it was because Topps finally made a card for him with a decent photo, after 2 years of ridiculous, capless photos (see below).

Maye was signed by the Braves in 1954, and played in their farm system from 1954 to 1960. He also played the 2nd half of the 1959 and 1960 seasons with the Braves. Lee started 63 games in right field in his first full season (1961) as Hank Aaron split his time between right and center fields.

The next season, he started 90 games between left and center, as Aaron continued to alternate between center and right. Maye ended up as the #3 outfielder in playing time in both ’61 and ’62.

Maye was the team’s primary left AND center fielder in 1963, and logged more playing time than all outfielders except Aaron. With rookie Rico Carty joining the club in 1964, Lee spent most of his time in center, although he was also Carty’s backup in left field. Lee never made an all-star team, but in 1964 he led the NL with 44 doubles while playing for the Milwaukee Braves.

Lee started the first 8 games of 1965 in center field, but was then relegated to the bench, and was traded to the Astros in late May for pitcher Ken Johnson and outfielder Jim Beauchamp. Maye was the Astros’ regular left fielder for two seasons, playing alongside Jim Wynn and Rusty Staub.

In January 1967 Lee was traded to the Indians for pitcher Jim Weaver, catcher Doc Edwards, and outfielder Jim Landis. Maye alternated in right field with Rocky Colavito in 1967, and was the team’s primary left fielder in 1968, although only starting 65 games there. He started 24 games in left field in 1969, until his mid-June trade to the Senators for pitcher Bill Denehy.

Maye was the Nats’ primary right fielder in ’69 and ’70, but was released in early September 1970. He was picked up by the White Sox, where he played until he was released the following July, then played for the Padres' AAA team in Hawaii for the remainder of 1971 and in 1972, before retiring.

Maye passed away in July 2002 at age 67.


Douglas said...

One thing that is interesting about Lee Maye is that he was an accomplished do-wop singer in the later 50's to the 80's. Although he more famous for baseball, it is very possible he is the most successful singer/major league athlete. (I would give the nod to Charlie Pride as the most successful singing pro baseball player)

Jim from Downingtown said...

In the 1960s, the Phillies' Richie Allen had a vocal group, which he squeezed in between baseball and trips to the race track.

Unknown said...

Lee Maye was quite the vocalist, working with band leader/producer Johnny Otis and in vocal groups with Jesse Belvin and Richard (Louie Louie) Berry. For the most part he is listed on records as Arthur Lee Maye. There's a lot of his stuff on YouTube. For example: