On May 28, 1969, the Big Bopper, Lee May, homers twice against the Pittsburgh Pirates to tie a major league record with six home runs in three consecutive games. May had previously hit two home runs each in games against the Montreal Expos on May 24 and 25th. All the games were played at Cincinnati’s Crosley Field. (info from “Day by Day in Cincinnati Reds History ” by Floyd Conner and John Snyder).
1969 was May’s first HUGE big league season, as he hit .278 with 38 homers, 110 rbi and connected for a .529 slugging percentage.
May’s first two homers in the streak came on May 24 when the Reds topped the expansion Expos, 11-2. May connected for a solo shot off reliever Steve Shea in the second inning and for a one-run blast off reliever Don Shaw in the sixth, while driving in a fourth run on a sacrifice fly in the first inning. Johnny Bench and Tony Perez also homered on this day, Perez’s blast coming in the second prior to May’s first homer of the day (back-to-back homers). The Reds also had four doubles and a triple, collecting nine extra base hits (15 total hits) off a beleaguered Expo pitching staff. Tony Cloninger went the distance to get the win for the Reds.
May’s second group of two homers came the next day against the same Expo squad. May homered twice off Expo fireballer Bill Stoneman (currently General Manager of the Los Angeles Angels). May had a three-run homer in the third and a solo homer in the sixth. Bobby Tolan also homered off Stoneman in this game. Stoneman finished the year 11-19 for the Expos and is the only major league pitcher whose first and last complete games were no-hitters (vs. Phillies in 1969 and vs. the Mets in 1974). Jim Merritt was the winning pitcher on his way to a 17-9 season.
May’s third consecutive two-home run day came three days later (Reds had two off days) on May 28, when he connected off Pirates starter Steve Blass to lead off the Reds’ bottom of the fourth inning. In addition, May slugged a two-run shot off reliever Chuck Hartenstein in the bottom of the sixth following a walk to Perez to give the Reds a 6-4 lead. The Pirates later tied the game, but the Reds scored the deciding run in the eighth when Perez singled, May lined out, and Bench singled Perez to third base, placing runners on the corners with one out. Then, with Tommy Helms at the plate, the Reds pull off a double steal, with Bench stealing second and Perez racing home with the go ahead run. Clay Carroll vultures a relief win, after blowing the save in the top half of the eighth inning. Carroll goes on to win 12 games in 1969, pitching 150 innings over 67 relief appearances and four starts.
So, in a period of three games, Lee May goes 6-10, with all six hits being home runs and collects 11 rbi. His hot hitting didn’t stop there. He collects two hits in each of the next two games, but all are singles. May raises his average from .252 to .287 in a five game stretch, going 10-19 during that span.
1969 and 1971 were May’s best seasons in the majors (1971: .278, 39 homers, 98 rbi). May was the key Reds player dealt to the Houston Astros in the trade that brought future Hall of Famer Joe Morgan to the Reds.