The greater Chattanooga region has lost a local baseball legend. Ted Williams May (known by locals as “Teddy May”), 60, of Cleveland, TN, passed away on March 26, 2019.
Born a Hoosier in 1958 to Charles and Ruthanne May, Ted was named after the great baseball hall of famer, Ted Williams. At the age of 8, Ted moved with his family to Cleveland, TN, where he started his baseball career. By the time he was 11, Ted was participating and winning both local and national baseball competitions, achieving notoriety wherever he played. In 1970, he made his way to the finals of the national MLB Pitch, Hit, and Throw Competition during the All-Star game in Cincinnati, OH, where he won in his age bracket. As a result of this win, he was flown to New York for an interview on The Today Show. From the get-go, he was positioned as a power hitter, and a star catcher. Ted’s high school career was spent at both Bradley and Cleveland High Schools, where he was scouted by all 28 major league teams. After many offers from colleges around the nation, Ted decided to play local at Cleveland State, under the direction of family friend, Coach Steve Longley. In 1977, as a college freshman at Cleveland State, he led the nation in collegiate home runs. After his tenure with Longley, he played one season for Valencia College in Orlando, FL, and with the dream of playing with the pros, signed with the Chicago Cubs in 1978. He played for the Cubs’ organization for 2 ½ years before signing with the New York Yankees (as referenced by Ted – “the Rolls Royce of baseball”) in 1980. While with the Yankees, he met and played with the likes of Tommy John, Goose Gossage, and Reggie Jackson (whom he actually beat in a home run contest in batting practice during spring training).
The story of Ted’s baseball career is just one example of his life’s accomplishments that highlight his ability to both recognize and achieve his dreams. After being put on waivers by the Yankees in 1981, he turned his attention to starting a family and building a career apart from the catchers’ mitt. Ted resurfaced as an entrepreneur, where he ventured in real estate and network marketing, and also founded several campaigns that raised money for Veterans, The St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, and The Jackie Robinson Foundation.
Nothing surpassed Ted's love for his community and family. Ted was known for his easy going demeanor, positive character, and resolute tenacity. Never one to complain, he instilled in his children the value of hard work and perseverance, the virtue of positive thinking, and the art of “keeping their eye on the ball”. Those close to Ted appreciated his charisma; he could converse with anyone, anywhere, at any time, and he always seemed to have the gift of saying the right thing at the right time. He was, and is, dearly loved by family and friends, and will be forever remembered as a gentle soul with a big heart and big dreams. His bear hugs and warm smile are missed beyond belief. Ted is survived by his four children, Tiffany, Brandon, Jason, and Kaylee; his three sisters, Mona Colloms, Myra Lewis, and Robin Roy; and his mother, Ruthanne.
In celebration of Ted’s life, a memorial will be held at the Chattanooga Lookouts Stadium on April 27th, from 12-2:00 p.m. Guests are welcome to come and mingle, and enjoy a relaxed afternoon at the ball field while sharing stories (Parking for the memorial will be located in the Republic Parking Lot on the riverfront next to Cold Stone Creamery). Ted will have a permanent resting place at St. Therese Catholic Church in Cleveland, TN, where he served as an Alter boy in his youth.
- Featured as a catcher in the movie, A Winner Never Quits (1986).
- As a result of winning the national Pitch, Hit and Throw contest for his age bracket in 1970, Ted’s name is enshrined on a plaque at the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY.
- Has his own baseball card from when he played with the Chicago Cubs.
- Official baseball position was that of Catcher.
- Was a founding Inductee into the 2012 Cleveland State Sports Hall of Fame.
- Favorite: Movies (Rocky & Secretariat), TV Show (The West Wing), Conversation Topic (Politics), Hobby (working in the yard), Food (Peanuts), Dessert ( Homemade Ice Cream), Place (Beach), Saying (“What do you think?”).
Prior to Ted’s passing, he was inducted into the Cleveland, TN Parks and Recreation Department’s 43rd Old Timers Hall of Fame. The banquet for this induction will be held on April 26th, 2019. His two sons will be accepting the award on his behalf.
Ted’s favorite quote:
“A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives”. – Jackie Robinson