The Valley Baseball League announced their Hall of Fame Class of 2023 on Thursday night during the Valley League Board Meeting. The VBL will be induct 9 members to the Hall this summer during the All-Star game to be held at Bing Crosby Stadium in Front Royal Virginia.
The first to be announced to the Hall was Staunton native and North River High School alum of 1960—Jerry May. May was a basketball and baseball star at old North River High in Augusta. He was originally a Pitcher and Outfielder, but later converted to Catcher once he reached Pro ball. During his time as an amateur, May threw six no-hitters in American Legion Baseball. Before turning Pro, May played for the Staunton Braves as well as playing in the Rockingham County Baseball League. He was signed by the Pittsburg Pirates in 1961, by scout Syd Thrift—who later became the General Manager of the Pirates and Baltimore Orioles.
May made his Major League debut with the Pittsburg Pirates on September 19, 1964 against the San Francisco Giants. He was a late substitution in the game, and took his first MLB at-bat against future MLB Hall of Famer Juan Marichal. Marichal was able to induce May to hit into a pop out to the Giant third baseman.
What is perhaps May’s career defining moment came six years later in the MLB on June 12, 1973. May was behind the plate for the famous No-Hitter of Dock Ellis to beat the Padres 2-0 in San Diego. This was the No-Hitter that Ellis admitted he was high on LSD during the game, and didn’t arrive to the ballpark until 90 minutes before first pitch.
In a ten-year MLB career, May played in 556 games, tallying 357 hits over 1,527 at-bats that amassed a career batting average of .234. He swatted 15 career home runs, and drove in 130 RBIs. May was never known for his prowess with the bat, but he was valued for his defensive ability. In his career, he owned a .990 fielding percentage, whiling throwing out 42.57% of the base runners who tried to steal a base on him. His career 42.57% caught stealing percentage ranks as 11th on the all-time list. He led all National League catchers in 1970 with 50% baserunners caught stealing.
May’s MLB career came to a close in the city where he had one of the most memorable games—San Diego. His last career game came in 1973, on June 3rd versus the Padres. He was the starting catcher that day, but was replaced in the fourth inning for a pinch-runner after drawing a walk. Following the ’73 season, May returned home the Shenandoah Valley to Augusta County and his family farm.
Prior to the Valley Baseball League’s transition to a Summer Collegiate League, May played one final season in the Valley for his hometown Staunton Braves. He later became a part-owner of the Braves and regularly attended games up until his death in June of 1996 in a farming accident.
May was a successful farmer and businessman post his Baseball Career. He is remembered fondly by those that knew him and revered by the baseball community. It is with great honor that the Valley Baseball League announces his induction to the VBL Hall of Fame Class of 2023.