Jake May Opening Day at Wendell Park Honors Local Baseball Legend

Source: Wendell Historical Society, Wendell NC.
Source: Wendell Historical Society, Wendell NC.

By Sherry L. Scoggins, Town of Wendell

“Play Ball!” is music to the ears for the Town of Wendell.  What better way to transition into the spring season than a day of ball at Wendell Park!  Kick off the baseball and softball season in Wendell at our “Jake May Opening Day” celebration!

Enjoy “Pitch, Hit and Run” competition, a home run derby, and inflatables. T-ball, baseball, and softball games will also be played.

The Jake May Opening Day is April 22, 2017, 9am-3pm. This is a free event, open to the public, so come and join the celebration at Wendell Park, 601 W Third Street, Wendell NC.

This year is the centennial of Jake “Jakie” May entering professional baseball.  He grew up in Wendell playing ball with the older men.  In 1917, he began his professional baseball career with the St. Louis Cardinals.  Sportswriters dubbed him the “Wee Carolinian.”  When on the mound, he threw a left handed jug-handle curve ball and when at the plate he batted right-handed.  From 1924 to 1930, May played ball with the Cincinnati Reds.  In 1931, he was traded to the Chicago Cubs.  In 1932, the Cubs went to the World Series against the Yankees and May struck out the Babe twice!

That’s right. Jake May struck out Babe Ruth. Twice.

After 1932, May returned home to Wendell and spent the remainder of his life farming tobacco and hunting.  May was not a golfer, but he donated the land as an entrance on Wendell Falls Parkway and the road bears his name — Jake May.  May passed away in 1970.

In keeping with the rich Wendell tradition of America’s pastime, Wendell has the honor of being three time Tar Heel Champions in two different age groups —  boys 7-8 coach pitch and boys 9-10  — for three straight years in a row:  2014, 2015, and 2016.  Looking forward to another great season of ball!

Questions about opening day? Call Wendell Parks and Recreation at 919.366.2266.

Or, check out the Wendell Historical Society’s data on Jake May.

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