He went out of his way to teach rookie designated hitter Eddie Murray how to take his job at first base, imparted to him the subtleties of playing the position that was his turf. That was all Murray needed to know about how Lee May would shape up as a coach someday.
Seventeen years later, with eight years of coaching experience for two different organizations on which to draw, May is on the brink of signing a contract with the Orioles to become their
Barring an unexpected last-minute snag in contract negotiations, May will be one of four ex-Orioles on recently hired manager Phil Regan's coaching staff, joining Elrod Hendricks (bullpen), Mike Flanagan (pitching) and Al Bumbry (first base).
Former major-league managers Chuck Cottier (third base) and Steve Boros (bench coach), close associates of Regan's through the years, also will be named to the staff.
May, 51, interviewed yesterday for the hitting coach vacancy the Orioles had hoped would be filled by Merv Rettenmund, another ex-Oriole who decided to accept a contract extension with the San Diego Padres.
After meeting yesterday with May, the Orioles determined they did not need to bring in any other candidates to interview for the position.
He spent parts of 18 seasons in the major leagues with Cincinnati, Houston, the Orioles (1975-1980), and Kansas City. May hit 20 home runs or more in 11 consecutive seasons (1968-78) and totaled 354 career home runs.
As a player, May was, as he likes to call home run hitters, "a pump man." May and Boros, 58, are no strangers, having served together on recently fired Hal McRae's coaching staff with the Royals.
Boros and Regan are no strangers, either. They teamed in the Detroit Tigers' minor-league system for Birmingham (1959) and Denver (1960) and with the Tigers in 1961 and '62. They also scouted together with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
A native of Flint, Mich., Boros is known as one of the game's most forward thinkers on the art of base running, a qualification that lendscredence to Regan's promise to make the Orioles more daring on the bases. Boros managed the Oakland Athletics in 1983 and '84 and the Padres in 1986, compiling a career record of 523-560.
Bumbry spent all but the final of his 14 seasons in the major leagues with the Orioles. A fan favorite as a player, Bumbry will gain a promotion from Double-A Bowie. The Orioles have been pleased with his outfield and base-running instruction.
"We're going to have a nice mixture of youth and veterans on the coaching staff," Regan said before returning to Venezuela, where he plans to continue to manage the Caracas Lions until Nov. 15.
Whatever the mix, it always includes Hendricks, who will be in an Orioles uniform for a 27th Opening Day, provided baseball's labor dispute is settled.
Baines, Williamson file
Designated hitter Harold Baines and long reliever Mark Williamson filed for free agency yesterday, joining second baseman Mark McLemore as the only Orioles to file.
Williamson, who made the club as the 11th man on the pitching staff last season, proved a valuable addition, going 3-1 with a 4.01 ERA. He made two starts for the Orioles late in the season when the schedule left them one starter short. Williamson, a non-roster invitee to spring training last season, has been with the Orioles since 1987.