When the Pirates signed pitcher Sam Leever in 1898, he was already 26 years old with no prior major league experience, and he only began is pro career in the minor leagues the previous season. A signing like that these days would likely fly totally under the radar, but Leever went on to be one of the greatest Pirates pitchers ever.

Sam had played baseball regularly prior to 1897, but his real profession was as a school teacher and he only pitched on Sundays. He was supposedly overlooked as a potential major leaguer because he didn't throw hard but he had a devastating curveball with pinpoint control that eventually got him enough notice to sign with a minor league team in Richmond, where he would post 21 wins that 1897 season. That led the Pirates to signing him for the 1898 season, bu...

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John Dreker
John was born in Kearny, NJ, hometown of the 2B for the Pirates 1909 World Championship team, Dots Miller. In fact they have some of the same relatives in common, so it was only natural for him to become a lifelong Pirates fan. Before joining Pirates Prospects in July 2010, John had written numerous articles on the history of baseball while also releasing his own book and co-authoring another on the history of the game. He writes a weekly article on Pirates history for the site, has already interviewed many of the current minor leaguers with many more on the way and follows the foreign minor league teams very closely for the site. John also provides in person game reports of the West Virginia Power and Altoona Curve.