George LeClair

August 16, 1914: Pittsburgh Rebels hurler George LeClair takes one for the team, gets blasted for 21 runs

This article was written by Gary Belleville

George LeClairFederal League Park in Indianapolis struck fear into the hearts of pitchers – and it wasn’t just because the park was built on top of a former burial ground.1 The spanking-new facility, constructed specifically for the city’s Federal League entry, was the most hitter-friendly ballpark in the majors.2 Its dimensions were 365 feet down the left-field line, 428 feet to straightaway center, and a mere 304 feet down the right-field line, making it a haven for doubles and triples.3

Not surprisingly, the 1914 Indianapolis Hoosiers were the best offensive team in the Federal League by a wide margin.4 They were nothing special on the road. But they were lethal in their home ballpark, averaging 5.5 runs per game – an impressive figure for the Deadball Era. The Hoosiers were the only major-league team in 1914 to score 15 or more runs in a game more than once. They did it four times.5

The Hoosier offense was at its best on August 16 when Indianapolis hosted the Pittsburgh Rebels in the opener of a four-game series. The Hoosiers came into the game in second place, 2½ games behind the Chicago Chi-Feds.

The beneficiary of their run-scoring largesse that afternoon was 34-year-old right-hander Cy Falkenberg (15-14, 2.44 ERA). Falkenberg’s major-league career had been rather ordinary until he began throwing an emery ball for the Cleveland Naps in 1913.6 The trick pitch catapulted him to a 23-win season, which earned him a lucrative contract in the upstart Federal League.7

Rebels rookie George “Frenchy” LeClair was making his second major-league start.8 The 27-year-old right-hander was born in Vermont, but by his 10th birthday his family had moved 50 miles north to Farnham in Québec’s Eastern Townships.9

LeClair had been an unheralded pitcher when he signed with Pittsburgh; although he had spent parts of four seasons at the highest level of the minor leagues with the Montréal Royals, he was unable to find regular playing time with them and most of his professional experience was in the lower levels of the minors.10 LeClair had been a pleasant surprise since joining the Rebels, posting a 2.36 ERA in his first nine appearances.

A banged-up Pittsburgh team came into the game in last place with a 45-57 record, 3 percentage points behind the sixth-place St. Louis Terriers and Kansas City Packers. The Rebels were without their top hitter, third baseman Ed Lennox (ankle injury), and second baseman Jack Lewis (food poisoning).11 More importantly, they were missing sore-armed pitcher Cy Barger, leaving the team with a five-man pitching staff and giving LeClair an opportunity to start.12

The game got off to a decent start for LeClair and the Rebels, as they held a 2-1 lead after 2½ innings.

In the bottom of the third, the Hoosiers loaded the bases on two singles − one of which didn’t leave the infield − and an intentional walk to the cleanup hitter, Frank LaPorte. The move backfired as Charlie Carr, the Hoosiers’ 37-year-old first baseman, cleared the bases with a triple, giving Indianapolis a 4-2 lead.13

Falkenberg and LeClair put zeroes on the scoreboard for the next inning and a half. It turned out to be the calm before the storm, because neither pitcher tossed a scoreless half-inning for the rest of the game.

Pittsburgh was still in the game as late as the top of the seventh. After falling behind, 8-3, the Rebels scored a pair of seventh-inning runs on an RBI single by catcher Claude Berry and a fly out by Davy Jones, cutting the Indianapolis lead to three runs.

But Indianapolis responded by touching LeClair for three more runs in the bottom of the seventh. The first two scored on catcher Bill Rariden’s RBI single and center fielder Vin Campbell’s RBI double. After advancing to third,14 Campbell stole home on a double steal with future Hall of Fame manager and Pittsburgh-area native Bill McKechnie, who had walked.

Pittsburgh cut the lead to 11-6 in the top of the eighth on an RBI double by 19-year-old right fielder Mike Menosky, the youngest player to appear in a Federal League game up to that point in the season.

Some may have been surprised to see Pittsburgh player-manager Rebel Oakes send LeClair back to the mound for the eighth inning, considering that he had already given up 11 runs. The Pittsburgh Press reported that Oakes “had no one to relieve him and the Canadian boy had to stay in and take his punishment.”15 With only four other healthy pitchers on the team, Oakes’s options were limited.16 Since LeClair was at the bottom of the pitching staff’s pecking order, it was his game to finish.

The wheels completely came off the Rebels’ wagon in the bottom of the eighth. The Hoosiers pulled out in front, 15-6, on an RBI single by Carr, a single by Rariden that brought home a pair of runs, and a successful squeeze bunt by Falkenberg.

At this point the game turned into a farce. In quick succession, the Hoosiers pulled off four double steals. Three Indianapolis baserunners – Rariden, Campbell, and McKechnie – stole home on those double steals,17 with both Campbell and McKechnie swiping second, third, and home.

The bombardment of LeClair concluded with an RBI single by LaPorte and a double by Jimmy Esmond that tallied two more runs. The 10-run outburst put the Hoosiers ahead, 21-6.

Indianapolis manager Bill Phillips made wholesale changes to his lineup for the ninth inning. Campbell, who had stolen five bases in the game, including two steals of home,18 was replaced by a little-known 21-year-old outfielder named Edd Roush, an Indiana native who had played in a handful of games with the Chicago White Sox in 1913 before signing with the Hoosiers.19

Phillips yanked his struggling ace, Falkenberg, in favor of a local pitcher, Clarence Woods, who was making his second and final appearance in the big leagues. Woods loaded the bases before escaping the inning unscathed, mercifully ending a long afternoon for LeClair and the Rebels.20

The Hoosiers’ 13 steals against LeClair and Berry were the most given up by a single battery in an AL/NL/FL game between 1901 and 2021.21 Berry, who is best known for introducing the protective athletic cup to baseball,22 was normally not an easy catcher to steal on; he threw out 48 percent of potential basestealers during his five-year career in the big leagues. On this day, the Rebels may have simply allowed the baserunners to advance at will once the game got out of hand.23 It is worth noting that the defensive indifference rule was not implemented in the majors until after the 1919 season.24

LeClair’s pitching line was gruesome: 8 innings pitched, 24 hits (18 singles, 4 doubles, and 2 triples), 21 runs, 20 earned runs, 8 walks and no strikeouts. The 20 earned runs were the most given up in a game by an AL/NL/FL pitcher between 1901 and 2021.25

The Bill James Game Score26 for LeClair’s outing was an astounding -56, the worst Game Score recorded in the AL, NL, or FL between 1901 and 2021.27

Although LeClair’s complete game was extreme, similar outings were not uncommon during the Deadball Era. Between 1901 and 1919, AL/NL/FL pitchers tossed 86 complete games in which they gave up 14 or more runs.28

Barger returned to the starting rotation a week later, nudging LeClair back into a relief role. After an extended period of poor pitching by Mysterious Walker, LeClair was given another start on September 23. LeClair seized his chance, going 3-0 with a 1.76 ERA in five starts down the stretch,29 helping the Rebels climb out of last place and finish ahead of the faltering Terriers.30

Pittsburgh rewarded LeClair’s efforts with a contract for the 1915 season and a modest boost in salary. “He [LeClair] will be one of the greatest pitchers that ever wore spiked shoes,” raved Oakes. “He will beat anything in the league next year.”31

Unfortunately for LeClair, Pittsburgh beefed up its pitching staff for 1915 and he was unable to crack the starting rotation.32 The 5-foot-9 hurler, affectionately dubbed the “little French-Canadian” by the Pittsburgh press, was suddenly cut loose by the Rebels on June 26.33 LeClair’s release may have been a cost-cutting move, as several other Rebels suffered the same fate around that time.34

LeClair pitched one game for the Buffalo Blues before catching on with the last-place Baltimore Terrapins. He made 12 starts and 21 relief appearances during the 1915 season, finishing with a solid 2.85 ERA, which was 12 percent better than league average after adjusting for park effects, although his performance was masked by a dreadful 2-10 record.

The Federal League collapsed after the 1915 season, cutting the number of major-league teams from 24 to 16. LeClair bounced around the minor leagues for the next three seasons.35

He returned to Farnham for the last time after the 1918 season. LeClair died that October − just four days before his 32nd birthday − after contracting the H1N1 virus during the deadly second wave of the flu pandemic.36 He was one of 50,000 people in Canada to die from the virus,37 most of whom were adults between the ages of 20 and 40.38



This article was fact-checked by Kurt Blumenau and copy-edited by Len Levin.



In addition to the sources cited in the Notes, the author consulted,, the Encyclopedia of Minor League Baseball, and the Baseball Player Contract Cards Collection from The Sporting News. Unless otherwise noted, all play-by-play information for this game was taken from the article “Hoosiers in Wild Assault – Beat Rebels, 21-6” on page 8 of the August 17, 1914, edition of the Indianapolis Star.


Photo credit

Photo of George LeClair from the May 9, 1911, edition of the Sherbrooke (Québec) Daily Record.



1 Federal League Park was built on top of the former Greenlawn Cemetery. Since many of the deceased were buried there without proper grave markers, it is likely that some of the human remains were not properly disinterred. Bill Lamb, “Federal League Park (Indianapolis, IN),” SABR BioProject,, accessed July 14, 2022.

2 According to the Ballparks Database at, Federal League Park’s one-year park factor for runs was 120 in 1914. That means that 20 percent more runs were scored at Federal League Park than at an average FL ballpark. The most hitter-friendly American League ballpark was League Park IV in Cleveland; it had a one-year park factor for runs of 112. The most hitter-friendly National League ballpark was Redland Field in Cincinnati; it also had a one-year park factor for runs of 112.

3 According to the Ballparks Database at, the one-year park factor for doubles at Federal League Park was 123. The one-year park factor for triples was 119.

4 Indianapolis scored 100 more runs than the league’s second-best offensive team, the Brooklyn Tip-Tops. After winning the FL pennant in 1914, the cash-strapped Hoosiers were sold and moved to Newark, New Jersey, for the 1915 season. The team was renamed the Newark Pepper.

5 The Hoosiers’ offensive accomplishments had more to do with their home ballpark than the quality of their hitting. Indianapolis had an adjusted OPS (on-base plus slugging) of 98, which is 2 percent below league average after adjusting to park effects. Outside of Frank LaPorte, Benny Kauff, and Edd Roush, none of their position players had more than modest offensive production in the AL or NL. The 1914 Indianapolis Hoosiers scored exactly 15 runs three times: May 19 against the Brooklyn Tip-Tops, June 8 against the Baltimore Terrapins, and October 5 against the St. Louis Terriers. They scored 21 runs on August 16 against the Pittsburgh Rebels. The May 19 contest was the only one of those four games that wasn’t played at Federal League Park in Indianapolis. “Team Batting Game Stats Finder,”,, accessed July 14, 2022.

6 An emery ball is thrown by scuffing the baseball with a piece of emery paper, usually hidden in a pitcher’s glove. Eric Enders, “Cy Falkenberg,” SABR BioProject,, accessed July 14, 2022.

7 Enders, “Cy Falkenberg.”

8 George LeClair’s surname was spelled a variety of ways by sportswriters, including “LaClaire,” “LaClair,” “LeClaire,” and “Le Clair.”

9 Yves Chartrand, “George LeClair,” SABR BioProject,, accessed July 14, 2022.

10 When LeClair briefly played for the Montréal Royals in 1910 and 1911, the team was part of the Class A Eastern League. LeClair also spent a short time with the Royals in 1912 and 1913 when the team was part of the Double-A International League. Class A was the highest level of the minor leagues in 1910-11. Double A (Class AA) was the highest level of the minors in 1912-13. It remained that way until 1945. Chartrand, “George LeClair.”

11 “Cripples on Tour of West,” Pittsburgh Daily Post, August 9, 1914: 32; “Jack Lewis Will Join Rebels Today,” Pittsburgh Daily Post, August 13, 1914: 12.

12 Barger had won 15 games for the Brooklyn Superbas in 1910. “Hoofeds Get Ten Tallies in One Round,” Pittsburgh Daily Post, August 17, 1914: 9.

13 Charlie Carr had been a minor-league player-manager between 1906 and 1913. Prior to joining the Hoosiers for the 1914 season, Carr had last played in the major leagues in 1906 with the Cincinnati Reds. He was the game’s offensive star: Carr went 5-for-6 with a triple, a double, 5 RBIs, a stolen base, and 3 runs scored. It was his most productive day at the plate in his seven major-league seasons.

14 The game story in the Indianapolis Star reported that Campbell “took second on a wild throw by [the catcher] Berry.” But Campbell reached on a double, so this was probably a misprint. It is more likely that Campbell reached third on Berry’s throw. Berry was charged with two errors in the game.

15 “Local Feds Anxious to Win Today,” Pittsburgh Press, August 17, 1914: 20.

16 There were two main candidates to come in and relieve LeClair. Howie Camnitz had pitched a complete-game victory on August 12. His next start was on August 19. Mysterious Walker had pitched only 7⅓ innings in the previous week. He pitched in relief on August 17, the day after LeClair was roughed up. Walker started on August 18.

17 Although Rariden was a catcher, he stole 12 bases in 1914. Art Wilson of the Chicago Chi-Feds led all Federal League catchers with 13 steals that season.

18 Vin Campbell’s two steals of home tied the single-game record in the American/Federal/National League. As of the start of the 2022 season, no player in the three leagues had stolen home three times in a game. The previous player before Campbell to steal home twice in a game was Eddie Collins of the Philadelphia Athletics on September 6, 1913.

19 Roush had only 166 at-bats with the Hoosiers in 1914. After the demise of the Federal League, he continued his Hall of Fame career with the Cincinnati Reds and New York Giants. He won two NL batting titles and led the Reds to the Word Series championship in 1919.

20 “Hoosiers and Rebels Set for Real Contest,” Indianapolis News, August 17, 1914: 8.

21 Between 1901 and 2021 the most stolen bases by a team in an AL/NL/FL game was 15 by the New York Highlanders on September 28, 1911, against the St. Louis Browns. The Browns used two catchers (Jim Stephens and Jay Clarke) and three pitchers (Earl Hamilton, Elmer Brown, and Red Nelson) in the game. Seven of the steals were charged to Stephens and eight were charged to Clarke. The Washington Senators stole 13 bases against catcher Branch Rickey of the New York Highlanders on June 28, 1907. However, one of those steals came with Earl Moore on the mound. King Brockett was pitching when the other 12 bases were stolen. “Team Batting Game Stats Finder,”,, accessed July 15, 2022; Laura H. Peebles, “June 28, 1907: Branch Rickey sets record by allowing 13 stolen bases to Senators in one game,” SABR Games Project,, accessed July 18, 2022.

22 Jonathan Fraser, The Cultural Encyclopedia of Baseball (Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, 2016), 755.

23 The blame for the baserunning chaos could not be laid solely at the feet of LeClair either. Six weeks after this game, LeClair tossed seven solid innings against the Hoosiers with Berry behind the plate, and Indianapolis didn’t steal a single base that day.

24 Warren Corbett, “July 19, 1915: Washington Senators set a stolen-base record, sort of,” SABR Games Project,, accessed July 19, 2022.

25 Confirming this record is not straightforward, since some Baseball Reference and Retrosheet box scores from the early part of the twentieth century do not show earned runs. Allan Travers gave up 24 runs in his only major-league start on May 18, 1912, although only 14 of those runs were earned. Bob Groom of the Washington Senators gave up 20 runs on May 11, 1911, but several of those runs were unearned. “Player Pitching Game Stats Finder,”,, accessed July 15, 2022; “Allan Travers,” Baseball Reference,, accessed July 15, 2022; Sam Weller, “Sox Get 20 Runs in Slugging Bee,” Chicago Tribune, May 12, 1911: 10.

26 Bill James introduced the Game Score metric in 1988. It is referenced in this article because of its widespread acceptance in the early part of the twenty-first century. The author acknowledges that it may not be the most accurate performance measurement for starting pitchers. Jeff Angus, “Does ‘Game Score’ Still Work in Today’s High-Offense Game?” Baseball Research Journal (Summer 2010),, accessed July 15, 2022; J.T. Grossmith, “Game Score vs Starter Score,” Baseball Research Journal (Fall 2013),, accessed July 15, 2022; Tom Tango, “Game Score Version 2.0,” Fangraphs,, accessed July 15, 2022.

27 By comparison, as of the beginning of the 2022 season, the worst Game Score recorded in the major leagues since the start of divisional play in 1969 was -21 by Mike Oquist of the Oakland Athletics on August 3, 1998. In five innings of work against the New York Yankees, Oquist was touched for 16 hits (4 homers), 14 runs, 14 earned runs, 3 walks, and 3 strikeouts. As of the beginning of the 2022 season, the best Game Score recorded since 1901 in the AL, NL, or FL was 153 by Joe Oeschger of the Boston Braves in his 26-inning pitching duel on May 1, 1920, against Leon Cadore of the Brooklyn Robins. “[Worst] Player Pitching Game Finder,”,, accessed July 19, 2022; “[Best] Player Pitching Game Finder,”,, accessed July 19, 2022.

28 By comparison, 49 no-hitters (including Pete Dowling’s outing on June 30, 1901, for the Cleveland Blues) were thrown in the AL/NL/FL between 1901 and 1919. “Player Pitching Game Stats Finder,”,, accessed July 19, 2022.

29 LeClair finished the 1914 season with a 4.01 ERA. If one removes his disastrous start on August 16, his ERA drops to 2.45.

30 Pittsburgh was three games behind the Terriers when LeClair returned to the starting rotation on September 23. The Rebels went 9-7-2 from September 23 until the end of the season, including a 4-0-1 record in LeClair’s starts. They finished in seventh place with a 64-86 record, 2½ games ahead of the St. Louis Terriers.

31 “George LeClair in Pittsburgh; Showing Extraordinary Skill as Baseball Pitcher,” Sherbrooke (Québec) Daily Record, October 14, 1914: 5.

32 In addition to convincing Frank Allen to jump from the NL to the FL at the end of Brooklyn’s 1914 season, the Rebels also added a pair of experienced minor-league hurlers to their 1915 pitching staff: Clint Rogge and Bunny Hearn. Allen threw a no-hitter for the Rebels on April 24, 1915.

33 “Le Clair Is Given Release,” Pittsburgh Press, June 29, 1915: 28.

34 Other veteran players released about this time included outfielders Frank Delahanty and Hugh Bradley, and infielder Ed Holly. Florent Gibson, “Rebels Move West After Day of Rain,” Pittsburgh Daily Post, July 3, 1915: 13-14.

35 Chartrand, “George LeClair.”

36 “History of 1918 Flu Pandemic,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,, accessed July 18, 2022; Chartrand, “George LeClair.”

37 At least 50 million people died worldwide during the 1918 flu pandemic, including approximately 675,000 in the United States. “History of 1918 Flu Pandemic.”

38 The population of Canada in 1918 was approximately 8.1 million. “Estimated Population of Canada, 1605 to Present ,” Statistics Canada,, accessed July 18, 2022; “The Spanish Flu in Canada (1918-1920) National Historic Event,” Parks Canada,, accessed July 18, 2022.

Additional Stats

Indianapolis Hoosiers 21
Pittsburgh Rebels 6

Federal League Park
Indianapolis, IN


Box Score + PBP:

Corrections? Additions?

If you can help us improve this game story, contact us.