Card of the Day: 1984 Topps Milt May

Today’s Card of the Day is our first two-part special. I won’t give away the second part today, but you’ll definitely see why I decided to put them together once you see tomorrow’s card. Today we look at the 1984 Topps card for Milt May.

May was a catcher for the Pittsburgh Pirates from 1970 until 1973. He was a bit player on the 1971 World Series champs. He hit .278 with six homers and 25 RBIs in 49 games. May started 31 games behind the plate during the season and he got three at-bats during the postseason, all off the bench. His biggest contribution during his first stay with the Pirates might have been the trade value he built up. The Pirates were able to flip him even up for Jerry Reuss, who put together some big stats, then was dealt for Rick Rhoden, who did the same, then was dealt in part for Doug Drabek. May returned to the Pirates at the end of the 1983 season in an even swap for catcher Steve Nicosia. May was nearing the end of his time, but the Pirates just needed him to back up All-Star Tony Pena.

With the acquisition of May late in 1983, he was included in the 1984 Topps set as a member of the Pirates. I’m not exactly sure why they decided to use this particular photo for him, but here’s his 1984 Topps card:

This is probably the closest to the camera non-portrait pose that I’ve seen in the Topps set over the years. It’s as if they asked a left-handed batter to sneak a photo of him during the game. I have the 1984 Topps set and looked through it at least once, so at some point I saw this card. It apparently didn’t stick because when I saw it again a few years ago, I didn’t believe that it was the real Topps card for May. There are people who create cards that didn’t exist, but could have because the player was in the majors at the right time for the set. I thought this was one of those cards. To me it didn’t look like something Topps would put out.

Here’s the back of the 1984 Topps Milt May

Topps didn’t care much for the eyes of people reading the backs of cards.. You read enough of that small print as a kid and you’ll strain your peepers, especially with veterans like May. Some of the newer generation might not know this, but the “Game-Winning RBI” reference on the back was a real stat that people kept track of during a time in the 1980s. If fact, in later years, for a short time, it was listed on the back of cards. I’m not sure why they stopped keeping track of it, but it was a fairly quick fad according to my research. The back of the card shows that May lived in Bradenton at the time and I always appreciate the Pirates logo from this era, which can be found in the top right corner.

This card is a common and you can probably find it for $2 on Ebay (including delivery) if you want to add this oddity to your collection. The “let me get in your personal space a snap a photo while you’re catching” card would make a great addition to any Pirates collection. Magnifying glass for the back stats not included.

Part two tomorrow.