The growth of May the DJ has coincided with the growth of May the Pitching Prospect, progressing from Lakewood to Clearwater to Reading. May is an outgoing, 22-year-old who was the valedictorian of his Kelso (Wash.) High class and likes to engage his curiosity. He once spent an offseason devoted to mastering a video game. DJing became a way to combat the monotony of minor league baseball and stimulate eclectic musical proclivities.
But before it became a passion — much less a hobby — May needed to learn what he was doing. And the initial sounds were more ear-splitting than exhilarating.
"I was absolutely terrible," May said. "I didn't know where to start with it."
May started by bringing his DJ controls on the road during the season. He tried to teach himself by watching YouTube. Last offseason, May returned to the Seattle area and devoted more time to the craft. He still lacked talent, but he at least maintained ambition.
May delivered a mass text message to friends in fraternities at the University of Washington and offered to DJ parties for free, pointing out that he owned equipment and just wanted experience. He sent out tweets and answered questions on Reddit trying to learn more about the fundamentals, even becoming friendly with DJs in Philadelphia who knew him as a likely future Phillies pitcher.
"It kind of blossomed from there," May said.
May does not like to constrain music into genres, but said his favorite type of music is progressive house and dubstep — a slower, computer-generated bass music. "The Beatles are to Metallica as house is to dubstep," May said.
In the Reading Phillies' clubhouse, May often uses his headphones to drift into his beats. Most of his teammates listen to Latin and country, the two genres that May most detests. He occasionally played his music on the stereo system, and his teammates joked the artist is "DJ Hey Beef." Even when granted control of the music on days that he starts, May now gives someone else the option and wears headphones.
"I don't like people whining all day," May said.
It has not stopped May from become a musical evangelist within the clubhouse, spreading his taste to other players. He brought teammate Colby Shreve to a Swedish House Mafia show in Clearwater, Fla., last season and tried to expand fellow top prospect Brody Colvin's musical palette beyond country and Lil Wayne.
"I think music is everything to him, and that's a big way to describe him," said outfield prospect Tyson Gillies, who is May's roommate in Reading. "Everything he does, all his gestures, it all has to do with music, like waving his arm."
During the season, May spends about an hour per day fiddling with the equipment. On off days and in the offseason, he devotes most of his waking hours. Shreve said it is especially useful for May because ballplayers need hobbies to allow them to separate from the grind of their day jobs.
"That does it for him," Shreve said. "I'd go into his room during spring training, and he'd be going to town for hours. It's great to have something like that."
Shreve admitted to skepticism when May started but has seen the progress in the past 2 years. During spring training, Shreve heard the beats through the walls in the team hotel. Gillies can feel vibrations throughout their residence and plans to attend Saturday's show dressed as a security guard.
At the event, May said he will cater the music more to popular vocal songs such as "Call Me Maybe," but incorporating remixes that satisfy his style and allow him to show off his abilities on the mixer. One of the key skills is transitioning in and out of songs, and May has become adept to the point that he can ably teach the practice to a novice.
Though May signed a six-figure signing bonus in 2008, he still talks about DJing as a form of offseason income. May even organized a show at a three-story Seattle nightclub in front of 600 people last offseason. He lost money in the process, but the 90-minute sequence and the energy of the crowd captivated May and opened his eyes to the possibilities. He talks about shows in Miami and Las Vegas that draw thousands of people and envies the man playing the music that all those fans jump and dance to for an escape.
"One of the best feelings there is," he said. "I wanted to figure out what that was like. And I still have no idea what it's like in front of thousands."
May stressed that baseball is both his first passion and first priority, and that nobody would even know he was a DJ if he couldn't throw a world-class fastball, curveball and changeup. He is 5-3 this season with a 4.94 earned run average. He has struck out 58 and walked 24 in 58 1/3 innings.
May yearns to eventually earn a promotion to Philadelphia, create a name for himself with the big-league club and then branch out into the music industry.
"Pitching is my favorite thing in the world," May said. "It's not a close second, but the second thing is that excitement [of being a DJ]. I just have a lot of fun. I don't know how it happened. Everything kind of morphed, and I got kind of obsessed with it." n
Contact Zach Berman at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @ZBerm.