Pittsburgh Rebels

From BR Bullpen

Win-Loss Record: 218-231-7 (.486)

Ballpark: Exposition Park III (April 14, 1914-October 2, 1915)

Team History[edit]

The Pittsburgh Rebels were Pittsburgh’s entry in the Federal League when the league first began back in 1913. Previously the team had been a member of the short-lived outlaw minor league, the United States Baseball League. Managed by former Pittsburgh Pirates star Deacon Phillippe, the team was popularly known as the "Filipinos". In addition to the Filipinos, there were seven other teams in the league: five big-league cities: Brooklyn, NY, Cincinnati, OH, Cleveland, OH, New York, NY and Washington, DC, with Richmond, VA and Reading, PA rounding out the league. Initially the league was supposed to have played a 126-game schedule, beginning on May 1st. Unfortunately due to financial difficulty it folded in early June with Pittsburgh winning the pennant with a 19-7 record. This success convinced the team owners, particularly, William Tice McCullough, that the city of Pittsburgh was big enough for two ball clubs. However, Pirates owner Barney Dreyfuss flat out refused to allow another team in his territory.

When the Federal League was formed during the winter of 1912/13, Pittsburgh was one of the teams to be included. Deacon Phillippe remained manager of the team. The Feds played their home games at Exposition Park, but due to its location, which was near the Allegheny and Ohio Rivers, the field was susceptible to flooding. Both Pittsburgh, and fellow Federal League team, the Covington Blue Sox, had their home openers threatened by flooding from the Ohio River due to heavy rains on March 31st, but both clubs managed to open the season at home.

The team opened the season on May 6th against the Indianapolis Hoosiers. A crowd of 7,225 witnessed the Hoosiers defeat the Rebels 9-5. Eight days later, Roy Ashenfelter came close to pitching the first no-hitter in a 5-0 win over the St. Louis Terriers. The lone St. Louis hit came in the 1st inning by the second baseman, and reports stated that the Rebels’ second baseman, Mike Menosky, or first baseman, Sabrie, should have fielded the ball, but didn’t. However, the team was itself the victim of a no-hitter against the Terriers two games later. Mid-way through the season, the team was having financial difficulty and was unable to pay its players. Things were so bad that on one trip, Phillippe had to pay expenses out of his own pocket. After the season, Philippe left the team and baseball, and did not want to have anything to do with professional baseball again. However, he would make a short appearance in January, when he filed a lawsuit against the team for close to $1,600. This was done because Phillippe felt the team still owned him money dating back to July 15th, with 6% interest.

During the off-season, the team went through three different choices before settling on Harry "Doc" Gessler as manager. With Phillippe gone from the team, the team was no longer called the Filipinos. Veteran newspaper reporters took to referring to them as the Stogies, after the former Union Association team. However Ralph Davis of the Pittsburgh Dispatch took to calling the team the "Rebels”"even before Rebel Oakes was named team captain. They opened the 1914 season at home against the Brooklyn Tip-Tops. 15,000 fans were on hand to watch the two pitchers, Tom Seaton and Elmer Knetzer, duel for 9 innings with neither side scoring. Then in the 10th Tip-Tops center fielder Solly Hofman scored the game-winning run. The Rebels lost three straight before getting their first win of the season against the Tip-Tops.

Gessler lasted 11 games before being replaced by team captain Oakes, though the move wasn't made official until May 7th. Although the Rebels reached as high as fourth place, they only came within one game of reaching .500, on June 8th, when their record was 20-21-2. The team finished the season in seventh place with a 64-86-4 record. Both team captain Oakes and third baseman Ed Lennox led the team with a .312 batting average, and Lennox also led the team with 11 homers. Knetzer led the team both in wins with 20, and ERA at 2.88.

The 1915 season saw the Rebels win on the road against the Kansas City Packers on opening day, 8-0. After a six-game road trip, which saw the team go 2-4, the Rebels returned home for their home opener against the Packers. As in the first game of the season, the Rebels won, this time by a score of 4-1. The team spent majority of the season in contention for the pennant, but a 2-4 record in their last six games against the Chicago Whales, led to finishing the season in third place by half a game behind the Whales and Terriers. That year Ed Konetchy led the team in home runs and batting average, while Frank Allen led all pitchers in wins and ERA. After the season, like the rest of the league the Rebels folded. The last surviving player was Menosky, who died in 1983.


  • Peter Filichia: Green Cathedrals: The Ultimate Celebrations of All 273 Major League and Negro League Ballparks Past and Present, Addison Wesley Publishing Company, 1993.
  • Brendan Macgranachan: "The United States Baseball League", Seamheads website.
  • Robert Peyton Wiggins: The Federal League of Base Ball Clubs: The History of an Outlaw Major League, 1914-1915, McFarland, Jefferson, NC, 2008.

Further Reading[edit]