Career: 1903-1923; 1924-1930
Positions: p, 1b, cf, rf, manager
Teams: Cuban X-Giants (1903-1904), Philadelphia Giants (1904-1910, 1923-1924), Brooklyn Royal Giants (1910), New York Lincoln Giants (1911), Smart Set (1912), Quaker Giants, Washington Potomacs (1924), Wilmington Potomacs (1925)
One of the best pitchers during the first decade of the century, McClellan pitched the first perfect game in black baseball history in 1903 while hurling for the Cuban X-Giants, the most dominant team of that time, against York, Pennsylvania, of the Tri-State League, facing only 27 batters.
After the completion of the season, the X-Giants made their second tour of Cuba, registering a 9-2 record against the island's best players. Three years earlier, in 1900, the X-Giants had made the first tour of Cuba by a black team and finished with a 15-3 record. Later McClellan pitched with Havana in the Cuban winter league of 1907.
Leaving the Cuban X-Giants team the year after his perfect outing, he teamed with Rube Foster to pitch the Philadelphia Giants to three straight championships, with the team registering seasons of 81-43-2 and 134-21-3 the first two years (1904-1905) before copping their third straight title in 1906 with a ballclub that is considered their best team of the period.
He was a smart pitcher, mixing an assortment of off-speed curves effectively to offset his lack of a substantial fastball. Along with Rube Foster, Walter Ball, and Harry Buckner, he was considered "head and shoulders above" other pitchers of the first decade of the century. An all-around ballplayer, he was a good hitter and usually played first base or in the outfield when not on the mound and batted in the heart of the batting order. After Foster, John Henry Lloyd, and several other players went West to play with the Leland Giants, McClellan remained with the Philadelphia Giants in 1909-1910, playing center field and batting cleanup.
He returned to New York City in 1911 for a couple of seasons with the Lincoln Giants and the Smart Set, with incomplete statistics showing a 1-3 record in 1911 and a batting average of .311. As his playing days shortened, he extended his career in baseball by becoming a highly respected manager, eventually organizing the new Philadelphia Giants in 1923 and touring New England and Canada, as a playing manager while playing semi-pro teams and compiling a record of 71-30-3. The following season he became a bench manager with the club and also managed the Wilmington Potomacs in 1925. In 1931 he became ill and was taken to the hospital, but died while waiting to see a doctor.
Source: James A. Riley, The Biographical Encyclopedia of the Negro Baseball Leagues, New York: Carroll & Graf Publishers, Inc., 1994.