You could make a strong argument that Stan Coveleski is the most unappreciated Hall of Fame pitcher. Few fans have ever heard of him, unless they are hard core baseball nuts. It would be hard to say he's underrated, because no one really remembers him much. Occasionally his name will pop up in Cleveland. But "Covey" was a fantastic pitcher, and the numbers bear that out. His statistics match up well against many of the bigger name pitchers of his era. Even though he was born less than two years after Walter Johnson and Pete Alexander, by the time Coveleski won his 20th game in the majors, the two of them had well over 100. Coveleski didn't start pitching regularly in the big leagues until he was 26 years old. There were several reasons for that:
- Even for his era, Coveleski was small - 5'10 or 5'11 but just 160 pounds in his early 20s. His small build kept many scouts away. On at least two occasions, Coveleski's brothers (two of whom played pro ball, one in the majors) were more highly scouted than Stan.
- The right-hander didn't throw particularly hard in an era where Johnson and Smoky Joe Wood were drawing lots of attention for tossing the fastball.
- Connie Mack had tried him out briefly in 1912 and determined the young righty needed more seasoning. He was sent (sort of hidden by the Athletics manager) to the west coast to learn how to pitch. Mack retained his rights, but with him way out west, other clubs didn't pay him much attention. Eventually, even Mack forgot about him and his rights were forfeited.
- Stan didn't learn his best pitch - the spitball - until about 1914 and he didn't perfect it right away.
- Once he started to pitch well for Portland in the Pacific Coast League, he got comfortable earning a pretty good salary, making more than what he would have as a rookie in the majors.