When I began my professional baseball career in 1962, there was no draft (MLB's first draft was in '65). In those days, every team had local scouts they were called "bird-dog scouts" who looked at ballplayers in a community, then recommended them to area scouts.
I could have turned pro when I graduated from high school, but I decided to attend junior college instead. Then, after going to college for one year, I decided the time was right to sign a pro contract.
I signed with the Houston Colt .45's (now the Houston Astros) in November 1962. The Colt .45's had joined the major leagues as an expansion franchise in '62, and the team's name changed to the Astros to start the 1965 season.
Since there was no draft when I turned pro, a prospect could sign with any team he wanted or, more accurately, with any team that wanted him. I liked that system better than a draft, because it gave players more freedom. Basically, every prospect was a free agent. With a draft, there is no freedom.