Lawrence Herbert French
- Bats Right, Throws Left
- Height 6' 1", Weight 195 lb.
- High School Visalia High School
- Debut April 18, 1929
- Final Game September 26, 1942
- Born November 1, 1907 in Visalia, CA USA
- Died February 9, 1987 in San Diego, CA USA
Larry French was one of the most reliable pitchers of the 1930s, winning at least 10 games in every year of that decade.
French began his pro career in 1926, and after several years with the Portland Beavers of the Pacific Coast League, his contract was purchased by the Pittsburgh Pirates. As a rookie for Pittsburgh in 1929, he went 7-5 with a 4.90 ERA while splitting time between the rotation and the bullpen. Primarily a starter in 1930, he won 17 games but lost 18 to lead the National League. In each season from 1931 to 1933, he led the NL in hits allowed, and he won 18 games in each of the latter two years. After posting a 12-18 record in 1934, he was dealt to the Chicago Cubs as part of a five-player trade.
French went 17-10 with a 2.96 ERA in his first season in Chicago in 1935, tying the NL lead with 4 shutouts. His club reached the World Series that year, but he was the loser in Game 3 and the decisive Game 6. He won 18 games for the Cubs in 1936 and made three appearances for the team in the 1938 World Series. Late in the 1941 campaign, after going 5-14, he was claimed off waivers by the Brooklyn Dodgers.
The 34-year-old French bounced back for the Dodgers in 1942, going 15-4 with a 1.83 ERA in 38 outings. He made what would turn out to be his final big league start against the Philadelphia Phillies on September 23rd of that year, pitching a one-hit shutout. Among pitchers with at least 75 innings in their final year, his ERA+ of 178 that year is second only to Sandy Koufax.
French enlisted in U.S. Navy on January 28, 1943 and served 27 years in the U.S. Navy, retiring in 1969. Following his military days, he worked as a car dealer and an insurance agent.
The National Pastime number 25 (a SABR publication) indicates that French was MVP of a seven-game exhibition series played in Havana, Cuba in October 1930, which featured nine future Hall of Famers. No Cubans were involved in the games, though the teams did play two games against Cuban squads. French outdueled Carl Hubbell, 2-0, in the opener then beat Tom Zachary in his other decision. Tiny Chaplin was the only other hurler with two wins in the series.
- NL All-Star (1940)
- NL Games Pitched Leader (1932)
- 2-time NL Shutouts Leader (1935 & 1936)
- 15 Wins Seasons: 9 (1930-1933, 1935-1937, 1939 & 1942)
- 200 Innings Pitched Seasons: 10 (1930-1938 & 1940)