Flashback: Former Shaw and Legion star Rocky LeFevre made his pitch for career in pro baseball

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Keith LeFevreKeith “Rocky” LeFevre was not unlike many young baseball players who loved to play baseball. He had a solid prep and American Legion career for Archbishop Shaw teams and became one of the first players from the Westbank school to go into pro baseball. He went on to have bright moments in his career in the Montreal Expos organization. He reached the Triple-A level in the minors but the Expos ultimately gave up on him.

LeFevre lettered in baseball for three years at Shaw. One of his early successes included a 12-strikeout, two-hit win against Terrebone High School in 1965. Following his performance, a local sportswriter for the Times-Picayune wrote, “Remember the name Rocky Lefevbre.” He wound up losing more games than he won in his first year, but three of his losses came in three games in which he allowed a total of five hits.

He was named to the district All-Legion team in 1966. In 1967 he threw two one-hitters in the prep league against Jesuit High and was recognized as Shaw’s MVP for baseball at the end of the season. LeFevre signed a grant-in-aid scholarship with the University of Southwestern Louisiana for the 1967-68 school year.

He pitched for USL as a freshman in 1968. LeFevre says he doesn’t recall his won-lost record, but remembers he led the team in innings pitched and strikeouts. Over the summer he played Legion ball again and was named to the district All-Legion team. The Times-Picayune reported that LeFevre was being scouted by the New York Mets and Boston Red Sox.

After being drafted by the Montreal Expos in the fifth round of the January 1969 MLB draft, he decided to take an offer from baseball scout Red Murff to sign with the Expos organization. The Expos were in its first year as a National League expansion club. (Murff was well-known for signing Nolan Ryan for the New York Mets a few years earlier.)

LeFevre pitched for Class A West Palm Beach in his first pro season in 1969. In 44 games in relief, the right-hander posted a 5-4 record, nine saves, and 2.18 ERA in 62 innings. He played for Double-A Jacksonville in 1970. One of the highlights of his career was a callup from Jacksonville by the major-league Expos to play in an exhibition game against the Boston Red Sox in a day off for both teams. Playing in Montreal’s Jarry Park, LeFevre appeared in the last two innings for the Expos, striking out three and giving up only one hit and one walk. He got a chance to meet fellow New Orleanian Rusty Staub, who was playing his first season with the Expos. LeFevre says Expos manager Gene Mauch told him after the game, “I’ll see you in spring training.”

He pitched for Quebec in the Double-A Eastern League in 1971, when he experienced another career highlight. He was selected to play in the league’s all-star game and pitched three scoreless innings in relief for his squad.

However, LeFevre’s career took a detour in 1972. He recalls about his situation then, “I didn’t feel like I was going anywhere with the Expos. I saw several of my teammates getting promoted, and I felt I was as good as they were.” Consequently, he voluntarily left the organization and was put on the restricted list for the entire season. In retrospect, he says now, “I hurt myself by sitting out that season.”

He returned to Quebec in 1973, when he spent most of the season as a starter. His ERA was an impressive 2.74, while he significantly reduced his walks and hits per inning (WHIP) to 1.152. One of his best games was a 7-inning one-hitter against Pittsfield on May 14.

One of LeFevre’s teammates with Quebec was future Hall of Fame catcher Gary Carter, who was 19 years old at the time. They roomed together in the same house with other teammates when they played home games.

Carter and LeFevre were teammates again for Triple-A Memphis in the 1974 season. Carter led the team with 23 home runs and 83 RBIs, earning a late-season callup to the big-league Expos. LeFevre recalls that he and his teammates made a prediction about Carter’s promotion. “Johnny Bench (Cincinnati Reds all-star catcher) better look out. There’s a new catcher in the majors and people will find out pretty quickly how good he is.” On the other hand, LeFevre’s effectiveness as a pitcher regressed. He made eight starts in 33 appearances. His ERA ballooned over two points to 4.76, while his WHIP increased to 1.635.

The Expos gave up on LeFevre, since they didn’t have much invested in his development. They decided to sell him to Tampico in the Mexican League, where he had been playing winter ball. LeFevre thinks that he was essentially buried by the Expos. He wished the Expos had traded him to another major-league organization, where he could have possibly gotten a fresh start. He pitched well for Tampico, posting a 10-9 record and 2.81 ERA in 20 starts. But his career was over after that season.

LeFevre learned that the game you love can sometimes be harsh. But he wouldn’t trade his experience for anything.

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Richard Cuicchi

New Orleans baseball historian

Richard Cuicchi, Founder of the Metro New Orleans Area Baseball Player Database and a New Orleans area baseball historian, maintains TheTenthInning.com website. He also authored the book, Family Ties: A Comprehensive Collection of Facts and Trivia About Baseball’s Relatives. He has contributed to numerous SABR-sponsored Bio Project and Games Project books.

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