The major league baseball draft is the toughest of all the major sports. Whereas in football or basketball, a first round draft pick can (and in most cases is expected to) make an immediate impact, nary a pro baseball player has made the jump from draft day to the starting lineup. So selecting a player is an excruciating process, one ripe with potential but fraught with disappointment. The basic theory is get the best guy that is available and mold him in to the player you want him to be so he can produce for you or be traded for something you need.

In early June 1982, someone in the Pittsburgh Pirates organization thought that the best player available with the 7th overall pick in the draft was Sammy Khalifa. Mr. and Mrs. Khalifa probably agreed, but convincing the folks in Pittsburgh that Khalifa was the likely successor to Dale Berra was a tough sell.

So with his Pirates contract in hand, the 19 year old Californian reported to Pirate City, Bradenton, Florida for the first stop on his magical journey towards the major leagues.

read about Sammy's minor league career next