Derrick May knows exactly what it is like to step onto the Wrigley Field turf as a starter on Opening Day.
On April 4, 1994, kicking off his fifth and final season as a Cubs outfielder, Chicago’s 1986 first-round draft pick batted cleanup, just in front of Sammy Sosa. May had three hits that day and drove in three runs, including an RBI double against Dwight Gooden, but the Cubs lost to the Mets, 12-8.
In his second half of his decade in the Majors, May moved on to the Brewers, Astros, Phillies, Expos and Orioles before concluding his playing career with three years in Japan.
The son of 12-year MLB veteran outfielder Dave May was not yet ready to hang up his uniform for the last time, however.
May’s continued travels led him into coaching, where after a decade of tutoring young St. Louis Cardinals hitters, the 46-year-old was recently named the 2014 winner of the George Kissell Award. The annual top honor for excellence in player development across the Cardinals organization is selected via peer voting.
May, St. Louis’ system-wide minor league hitting coordinator, is starting his fifth year in the role. Prior to that, the Delaware native worked as the hitting coach at Double-A Springfield for four seasons and at high-A Palm Beach the two seasons prior.
Quick to share this recognition with the individual team hitting coaches at every level of the system, May recently sat down to discuss his journey since being the ninth overall selection in the 1986 Draft at the tender age of 17.
In the following interview, May talks about his influences, the lessons he learned as hitter and a man both in the US and Japan, how and why he transitioned into coaching and joined the Cardinals and the progress he and his coaches made with countless youngsters since, culminating in the Kissell Award.
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