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Card-by-Yankees Card: The 1977 Topps Set, Rudy May (Article 13)

by Paul Semendinger


Rudy May was a Yankee for more seasons that most people remember. May pitched for the Yankees for seven seasons. Seven. That’s not a small number.

Rudy May pitched for the Yankees from 1974 to 1976 and then again from 1980 through 1983.

June 15 was a big day in Rudy May’s life.

On June 15, 1974, Rudy May was sold to the Yankees from the California Angels. May had pitched for the Angels for the entirety of his big league career to that point (1965, 1969-1974).

Then, it was on June 15, 1976 that Rudy May was part of that gigantic trade between the Yankees and the Baltimore Orioles. The Yankees sent May, Rick Dempsey, Tippy Martinez, Scott McGregor, and Dave Pagan to the Orioles for Doyle Alexander, Jimmy Freeman, Elrod Hendricks, Ken Holtzman, and Grant Jackson. (The Orioles got the better of that trade, by far… for years McGregor and Martinez were top flight pitchers and Rick Dempsey became the catcher who held the Baltimore staff together.)

Earlier in his career, Rudy May (as a minor leaguer) was traded from the Phillies (who had traded for him from the White Sox, who had traded for him from the Twins) to the California Angels for Bo Belinsky – one of the big characters in baseball at the time.

Rudy traveled well…

The Yankees reacquired Rudy May on November 8, 1979 (after he pitched two years in Montreal) when they signed him as a free agent. He didn’t disappoint. Rudy May has his finest season in 1980 going 15-5, 2.46 and leading the American League in ERA.

That 1980’s Yankees pitching staff was anchored by four left-handed starting pitchers: Ron Guidry, Tommy John, Rudy May, and Tom Underwood. (The only right-handed pitcher to have a significant amount of starts for the 1980 Yankees (meaning more than 10) was Luis Tiant who started 25 games for the Yankees that year.)

Currently, Rudy May sits 50th all-time on the Yankees’ list of Games Started (with 102). Even better, he is 24th all-time in ERA for the Yankees (3.12)

As I thought about Rudy May, I tried to find a list of all the Yankees who pitched for them, were traded away (or left) only to return to the Yankees to pitch again. Through my memory and my quick research, I have come up with the following names (in addition to Rudy May):

  1. Tommy John

  2. Rich Gossage

  3. Javier Vazquez

  4. Andy Pettitte

  5. Roger Clemens

  6. Mike Stanton

  7. Sterling Hitchcock

  8. David Wells

  9. Jeff Nelson

  10. Al Leiter

  11. David Robertson

  12. Ramiro Mendoza

  13. Tyler Clippard

  14. Aroldis Chapman

  15. Adam Warren

  16. and Doyle Alexander (who was also part of that huge trade with Baltimore…)

I’m sure there are more… lots more. But, of course, I can’t spend all day writing this one blog post… (If any readers would like to share some other names please feel free.)

1 Comment

Robert Malchman
Robert Malchman
Apr 27

I was a big Rudy May fan. IIRC, he had a terrific curveball and mixed his pitches well to keep hitters off balance. Oh, and I liked that, like me, he wore glasses!

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