Glancing Back, and Remembering Lee Maye
Lee Maye had more natural talent than he could fully realize – on the baseball diamond and in the recording studio. He was a talented ballplayer whose career was derailed more than once by injury. And as a doo-wop vocalist in the 1950s, his success as a singer was necessarily limited by the demands of his baseball career, playing for five different major league teams.
Lee Maye led the major leagues with 44 doubles in 1964. He batted ,304 for the Milwaukee Braves that season.
Maye was signed by the Milwaukee Braves in 1954 and made his major league debut with the Braves in July of 1959, getting two hits in five at-bats against the St. Louis Cardinals. In 51 games that season, Maye hit .300 with four home runs and 16 RBIs. His 1960 season followed the same pattern – starting the year in the minors, and closing out the season by playing in 41 games for the Braves, hitting .301 as a part-time performer.
Maye made the Braves’ roster for keeps in 1961, hitting .271 again as a part-time outfielder and pinch hitter, with 14 home runs and 41 RBIs. He hit .244 in 1962 and then bounced back in 1963 by hitting .271 with 22 doubles, 11 home runs, 34 RBIs and a career-high 14 stolen bases. He had his best season in 1964, the year he also had the most at-bats of any season in his major league career. Maye hit .304 with 10 home runs and 74 RBIs. He also led the major leagues with 44 doubles.
An important part of Maye’s game was his speed on the base paths and in the outfield, and a serious ankle injury in 1965 limited his abilities that season and, in fact, for the rest of his career. Maye was hitting .302 for the Braves when he was traded to the Houston Astros for Jim Beauchamp and pitcher Ken Johnson. He hit .251 for Houston in 1965 and batted .288 for the Astros in 1966. Following the 1966 season, he was traded with Ken Retzer to the Cleveland Indians for Doc Edwards, Jim Landis and Jim Weaver. His best season in Cleveland was 1968, when he hit .281.
In June 1969, Maye was dealt to the Washington Senators and hit .290 over the rest of that season. He split the 1970 season between the Senators and the Chicago White Sox, hitting a combined .261 with seven home runs and 31 RBIs. He hit .205 in 32 games for the White Sox in 1971 before retiring.
Maye played in the major leagues for 13 seasons and had a career batting average of .274. He collected 1,109 hits including 190 doubles and 94 home runs. He also had more than one hit in the recording industry, serving as the lead singer for “Arthur Lee Maye and the Crowns” prior to his career in baseball.
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