We were genuinely excited to learn of the ongoing effort to enshrine Wendell native Jake May in the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame.
His induction is still a hoped-for circumstance at this point and the competition for a few slots each year is undoubtedly fierce. But so, too, is May’s candidacy.
Most folks who have lived in or around Wendell have heard of May, the Major League Baseball pitcher who racked up wins playing for the precusor to the Anaheim Angels, the Cincinnatti Reds and the Chicago Cubs over a career that stretched across most of 15 years with a short stint removed for military service during World War I.
He is best known for striking out the immortal Babe Ruth twice in a single game in the 1932 World Series against the New York Yankees.
Though his raw numbers pale in comparison to the statistics posted by some of today’s top pitchers, May was the equal of most any pitcher when those statistics are normalized for comparison’s sake.
Wendell Historical Society President Sid Baynes has completed a nomination form and, last week, sought the support of Wendell town commissioners for May’s nomination. He got it.
And the nomination also wins our support. May was a Wendell original and when his career ended, he returned to his hometown where he lived the rest of his life, bringing a positive spotlight not only upon Wendell but, indeed, upon the entire state.
We hope the panel that selects the next class for induction into the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame will look upon May’s reputation as a strikeout master with an eye toward historical context. We believe that, if they do, May’s inclusion will be an easy call to make.