It’s book sale week at Central Christian Church, an event that keeps Ron May busy pretty much all year long.
“We keep checking as far as we know it is the largest book sale in the Pacific Northwest,” he says.
May came up with the idea for a book sale 17 years ago to raise money for the church and for charity. It quickly proved that even with today’s technology, a lot of people still love a good book and a good bargain.
“Fifty cents for paperback, a dollar for hardcover. We have never raised those prices,” May says.
“We have heard through the years about the death of the book and the Kindle and whatever is going to destroy it and we have not seen that. This thing just constantly grows. It provides 40-45 percent of our year’s budget,” he says.
While the book sale always brings crowds to the church, it was baseball that first brought May to Billings. He may be the oldest living person to have played for the team after he signed with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1952 as a southpaw pitcher.
It was another interesting chapter in his life.
“I came here in 1953 with the Mustangs. I was here not that long—three for weeks—before I was drafted.”
He was able to continue playing baseball while in the service—striking out an amazing 29 batters in one game for Fort Lewis.
“It went 14 innings. I struck out 29 hitters. I picked five off first base. I always had a good move. I think I perfected that because when I pitched, I always had a lot of baserunners,” he jokes.
May returned to play for the Mustangs in 1956. While his pro baseball career ended after that, his stay in Billings became permanent when he was offered a job as menswear buyer at the Hart Albin Department Store in downtown Billings.
He’s also met a young lady, Olga, who would become his wife.
“I came back and spent 33 years there. And this beautiful lady that I’m married to we have been married for 65 years now. Talk about staying power. She certainly has it,” he says.
Ron seems to have it as well. He says he leaves a lot of the heavy lifting now to others, but still takes a leading role in the largest book sale in the northwest.
“I still enjoy the success of it. I enjoy the way this community responds,” he says.
The Central Christian Book Sale runs Monday-Saturday, Sept. 25-30 from 10 am to 4 pm daily. The church is located at 1221 16th St. W. in Billings.