April 10, 2014
By Sean Brennan
Special to BIGEAST.com
In our latest installment of “Touching Base…,” we chat up the brothers May from Villanova. Derrick, Jr., a sophomore, and Donovan, a freshman, come from a baseball-playing family as grandfather Dave played in the Major Leagues from 1967 to 1978 with the Brewers, Orioles, Braves and Rangers, while father Derrick, Sr., a first-round pick of the Cubs in 1986, played from 1990-1999 with the Cubbies, Astros, Expos, Phillies and Brewers.
So Derrick, Jr. and Donovan let us in on what it was like growing up in a baseball family, the best advice they received growing up, why current St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Jon Jay is a family favorite, why a May Family Reunion might need its own zip code and why the future of Villanova baseball appears to be a bright one.
BIGEAST.com: So what was it like growing up in a baseball family?
DONOVAN: Growing up in a baseball family was pretty neat. We’d go to the ballpark every day and we’d just talk baseball with my dad. Even when he would go to work me and my brother would be at home with my mom and we’d just talk baseball all day.
DERRICK, Jr.: It was very influential for me. I always looked to (Dave and Derrick. Sr.) as my role models and I always tried to emulate my dad. It drove me to pursue a higher level of playing. There are times I’ll look at their tapes with my brother and see what they did. But they both influenced me on how to play the game.
BIGEAST.com: Your dad retired in 1999 when you were both pretty young. But were you still around the ballpark with him even after his playing days were over?
DONOVAN: Right after he retired my dad got a job with the St. Louis Cardinals (as minor league hitting coach). He was quick to get back in the game. We’d travel down to Florida to visit him, he was with the Palm Beach Cardinals at the time, so we’d still be around a baseball environment. We’d see minor leaguers coming up, guys like John Jay and Matt Carpenter. He brought us around a lot so we’d still have that baseball feeling. So even though we were young when he retired we stayed in touch with baseball.
Yeah it was very cool. It’s like you’re looking at a road map of how to get to that level. So every day when we’d go down there, you’d see the player’s work ethic and what it took for them to get to that level. We’d talk with them a little bit and hit with them a little bit and look at them as role models. We talked to John Jay a lot, he was pretty cool. He was the one guy we’d talk to a lot about baseball.
BIGEAST.com: You’re dad and grandfather played for a variety of teams in their careers so do you have a favorite team or is it now the Cardinals because you were around them so much?
DONOVAN: I started off with the Phillies but once he got with the Cardinals I pretty much became a Cardinals fan ever since.
BIGEAST.com: So is the plan for you two to become the third generation of the May family to reach the Major Leagues?
DONOVAN: That’s a huge driving force for me. Right now college is the most important and keeping my grades up, but (becoming a Major Leaguer) is a big driving force and my motivation to keep playing the game and getting better each day. Ever since I was little I had that dream of playing in the Major Leagues.
DERRICK, Jr.: Of course. That’s always been the big goal. That’s always been in the back of my mind since I was about four years old.
BIGEAST.com: What’s the best piece of advice you ever got from either your dad or grandfather?
DONOVAN: My dad told me just to be myself and don’t try to make other people happy. Just do what I can do, control what I can control, give my best effort and play with confidence and the rest will take care of itself.
DERRICK, Jr.: My grandfather, bless his soul (Dave May passed away on Oct. 10, 2012 at the age of 68), had one piece of advice I remember. One day when I was like 14 I had a bad game and I struck out and we lost. My grandfather was at the game and I didn’t talk to him afterwards. The next day he called me up and said, “Don’t you ever not say ‘Hi’ to people who come to see your games because that’s disrespectful. No matter who it is, you always say ‘Hi’ to people who come to your game.” That’s the biggest piece of advice I took from my grandfather.
BIGEAST.com: Do you have a favorite story from your dad?
DONOVAN: There was one game when he was playing with the Astros and I forget who he was playing against but he actually got in a brawl. It was pretty funny. He wasn’t involved in the fight, he was trying to break it up but he got punched. That was pretty funny. (Donovan said he can’t remember who landed the punch but “there’s an article about it. I have that article somewhere.”).
BIGEAST.com: How is it playing with your brother again after the two of you played together in high school at the Tatnall School in Delaware?
DONOVAN: We’ve been buddies since we’ve been little. We’ve been together playing on teams ever since we were in tee-ball so I’m pretty used to playing with him. We have good chemistry, it makes the game fun. When I’m having a bad day or he’s having a bad day, we’ve got each other’s backs so I love playing with him.
DERRICK, Jr.: It’s been great. I love having my brother as a teammate. He’s there for support. When he’s down I pick him up and when I’m down he picks me up. Ever since we were little we’ve been teammates. And that extra competition we have with each other makes us better.
BIGEAST.com: You come from great bloodlines as far as sports. Aside from your dad and grandfather, your mom, Alicia, was a volleyball player at Delaware State and you had uncles that played baseball at both Delaware and Delaware State. So it’s not surprising that you two are following in the “family business,” is it?
DONOVAN: No it’s not. My grandmother had 18 brothers and sisters and they all played sports. I come from a very large family and we just breathe sports, love to talk about sports.
DERRICK, Jr.: We have a lot of support because of our big family. They try to come to games when they can, especially games on the weekend because they all live in the Delaware area.
BIGEAST.com: Villanova opened the BIG EAST season by taking two of three from St. John’s. What can we look for from this Wildcats team?
DONOVAN: We started off a little rough but I think we understand the concept that it’s time to pick it up and time to change the tradition around here. I think we have a confident group of guys and we see a bright future for us. We work well together and we’re very hungry.
DERRICK, Jr.: I see (better days) coming soon. We’re making baby steps on how to become more confident in the way we are and how we handle ourselves as players and student-athletes. I see a big change coming soon.