By DAN BRANNAN
Associated Press stringer Calvin May is known as Tony La Russa’s First Question Guy for the St. Louis Cardinals baseball team.
What many don’t know is May is also a person who relies on insulin injections to preserve his life. May, an Edwardsville native, has had diabetes since he was a year old.
May, 49, is excited to be the team captain of Team Red for the Metro East Step Out: Walk To Stop For Diabetes. The date is Oct. 6. Check-in is at 8:30 a.m., and the walk begins at 9:30 a.m.
In 2004, La Russa, then the St. Louis Cardinals’ manager, was looking for May, normally the first to ask him questions in the press room after games. May was nowhere to be found, and La Russa missed him. May had been painting at his home on his day off.
The next night, La Russa gave May a hug and said, “You are my leadoff person from now on; you get the first question, and nobody else can ask a question before you.”
“He took a liking to me from what I understand,” May said. “When I asked the first question, I always tried to ask something positive. This was amazing to me; who would think this would ever happen to somebody like me?”
New Cardinals Manager Mike Matheny has carried on La Russa’s tradition and has May ask the first question after Cardinals home games under his leadership.
In sixth grade, May gave himself his first injection, prior to a dinner with his basketball team. Before that, his mother had given him the shots.
“I had to learn how to give myself the shot, or I didn’t go,” he said.
May started his career as a police dispatcher in Maryville and Caseyville, but eventually went to Broadcast Center in St. Louis and worked in St. Louis and Rolla, Mo., before starting with The Associated Press.
Last year’s World Series Cardinals victory was one of the most spectacular moments of his life, said May, who interviewed MVP David Freese after Game 6 when he won the game with a home run.
“Who would think what David Freese did in Game Six hitting one out of left field would ever happen?” May said. “It was like a dream come true.”
Many don’t know this, but at the later stages of the game, May goes back behind the press box area and injects himself each time with long-lasting insulin. He doesn’t talk about it much, although he said he did speak about it with La Russa on a couple of occasions.
The Edwardsville man doesn’t drink alcohol or smoke and tries to watch his diet. He said he always tries to live life the proper way and takes four injections of insulin a day to sustain his life.
The Metro East Diabetes Walk Website is www.diabetes.org/stepoutmetroeast or call 888-342-2383 to register to sponsor or get information or assistance. The walk starts and ends in Parking Lot A of Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. The route travels the walking path through the Botanical Gardens and Cougar Village.
May is a huge La Russa fan and supporter, and the feeling is mutual to him. After La Russa made him the First Question Guy, May said he had to ask the Cardinals manager why he did it.
“He told me, ‘You are a good man. You are real. You are always well-prepared,’” May said La Russa told him.
“It is unbelievable to me,” he said. “Why would someone of his stature give a kid from Edwardsville, Illinois, an opportunity like that?”