Thursday, August 20, 2009

1939 Play Ball #45 Merrill May

For less than a week, the 1948 Bowman Dutch Leonard card was the oldest Phillies card in my collection, until I added a few reasonable priced 1939 Play Ball cards via eBay auctions.

I’m told by my Sports Collectors Digest Standard Catalog of Baseball Cards that with the issue of the 1939 Play Ball set "a new era of baseball cards was born." The 161-card set was issued in a larger size than cards of the prior era, and the card backs contained full biographies of the players pictured. (I'm not sure why the bottom of the card advertises a 250-card set.) There are ten cards in the Phillies team set, and I now have four of them.

After attending Indiana University, Merrill "Pinky" May was selected by the Phillies from the New York Yankees system in the 1938 Rule 5 draft. He spent the next five seasons (1939-1943) as the Phillies starting third baseman before joining the Navy and serving in World War II. Pinky was one of the bright spots for the 1940 Phillies (a team that lost 103 games) making his first and only All-Star Game appearance. He led the team in runs scored, hits, walks and OBP, and he tied for the team lead in doubles. In total, he’d play 665 games for the Phillies, hitting .275 with 4 home runs and 215 RBI.

Following his time in the navy, Pinky retired from baseball as an active player and managed in the minor leagues for 27 years (1947-1972), compiling a record of 1658-1560. Given his winning record and his time in the minors, it’s surprising to me he never got a shot to manage in the Majors. Pinky passed away in September 2000 at the age of 89.

Son of Merrill: Pinky’s son, Milt May, played 15 seasons in the Majors from 1970 until 1984.


Matt Runyon said...

I didn't know Milt May's father was also a big leaguer. A pretty sizeable set could be made of father/son combinations in baseball history.

Jim said...

I'd love to see that set!