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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