one of my favorite local restaurants for dinner, and tomorrow I'm following up my sister's celebratory birthday lunch with a boys' night (ahem, make that a mens' night) with my three best friends from college. Oh, and today is Lee May's 69th birthday.
Okay, so Lee's birthday doesn't really have anything to do with my high spirits, but it doesn't hurt them, either. The "Big Bopper" spent the decline phase of his career in Charm City, playing first base and DHing from 1975 through 1980, his age 32-37 seasons. But on the whole, he still put up a slightly above-average 105 OPS+ as an Oriole and clubbed 123 home runs, 14th-most in team history. (Slightly ahead of him are Jim Gentile with 124 HR and Paul Blair with 126.) His best season in orange and black was 1976, when he hit .258 but posted a 127 OPS+ thanks in large part to his 25 home runs. In a low-offense American League, he led all hitters with 109 RBI, and finished ninth in MVP voting. However, veteran O's like Mike Cuellar, Paul Blair, and Brooks Robinson bottomed out, and Reggie Jackson's April holdout left the Birds wondering "what if". They finished 88-74, a distant second behind the 97-win Yankees.
Lee May finished his career with two seasons as a bench bat in Kansas City. He retired with 354 career home runs, which currently ties him with Luis Gonzalez for 79th all-time. Of course, the offensive explosion of the 1990s and 2000s took its toll on his rank; when he retired in 1982, Lee was #32 in lifetime home runs. But then, time waits for no man. There's not much for the Big Bopper to do but sit back and enjoy a big piece of cake, because he's earned it.