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4.7 out of 5 stars
Dollar Sign on the Muscle: The World of Baseball Scouting
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on November 19, 2007
Format: Paperback
Dollar Sign on the Muscle was the first work of serious literary journalism I ever read. I bought in the sixth grade, in the gift shop at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C., which I was visiting for the first time with my parents. I read most of it in the airport and on the flight home to Florida.

The book had a more significant impact on me than the trip to Washington did. It was astonishing to me that books like this existed in the world. When we returned, I raided all the narrative nonfiction books about sports from the Palm Beach County library. Most of them weren't so great, but I did, by way of this search, find my way to George Plimpton, Gay Talese, Truman Capote, Norman Mailer, etc., which set me on a lifetime course of better and more fulfilling reading.

I recently reread Dollar Sign on the Muscle, and it's better, actually, than I remembered. It's a historical document, now. The scouts and the world of old-time baseball men belong largely to the past. The era of Theo Epstein and Billy Beane, with its emphasis on all things quantifiable, is probably good for baseball, but it's not terribly romantic.

But that's not what makes the book so good. It's the knack Kerrane has for rendering his characters whole. You feel like you know these guys, you know what makes them tick, you know what it's like to spend an afternoon with them, you know what they want, need, desire, what makes their hearts beat hard. Many of Kerrane's old scouts are likely dead now, but in the pages of Dollar Sign on the Muscle, they live and breathe like they did then.

Perhaps with time, this book will find its way into print again. I hope so. Meantime, see if you can find a used copy somewhere. It'll be worth whatever it costs you, I promise.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on November 28, 1999
Format: Paperback
An excellent book for any baseball-fan. Extremely funny and entertaining. Everybody will learn more about scouting und the new edition lets you know how the career of the players scouted turned out.I fully agree with the assessment of Rob Neyer of espn.com, who included the book as honorable mention amongst the best baseball books of all time.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on March 6, 2008
Format: Paperback
Dollar Sign on the Muscle belongs on any short list of the best baseball books ever written. It has the ability to change the way you look at baseball by taking you inside the fascinating world of baseball scouts and their never-ending search for the "arm behind the barn," the "good face" and the many other phrases that you'll never forget after reading this book. Kerrane is a marvelous prose stylist but one who never draws attention to his own felicity for words -- instead, he uses that gift to effortlessly draw the reader into the scout's world (especially the bygone era of scouting before the advent of the amateur draft). I can't recommend it highly enough.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on March 28, 2008
Format: Paperback
This is a great book. It covers virtually the whole history of the "modern" game, from the early teens to (almost) the present day, and does so from the perspective of the baseball scout -- the keenest evaluators of talent in the game. Here are a series of larger-than-life characters, each with a silver tongue it seems, and an endless reservoir of anecdotes - often amusing, sometimes tragic. It is one of those books that is a pure pleasure to read and sink oneself into, filled with earthy but incisive baseball talk and analysis.

This book reflects a huge amount of research, but comes across with an easygoing quality, wearing its scholarship lightly.

It's unfortunate that it's out of print, and that used copies are so expensive. But if you can find one for a reasonable price you wouldn't be disappointed.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon June 26, 2011
Format: Paperback
During 1981, author Kevin Kerrane followed the scouts for thePhiladelphia Phillies baseball club. The resulting book - Dollar Sign on the Muscle - examines the scouts' lives. In doing so, Dollar Sign exposes a little-known culture - even die-hard baseball fans are apt to learn a lot from reading it. Also, Kerrane keeps the story moving for all of its 300 pages, making it an easy read.

People often comment on the millions earned by baseball players. The scouts, by contrast, must work for love of the game. (The starting salary in 1981 was about $18,000; a veteran scout earned about $25,000). Scouts also work hard; some spend 45 weeks per year on the road. Unsurprisingly, the job is very hard on family life.

Dollar Sign focuses on long-time scouts. Most of the veterans in the book started well before the amateur draft, at a time when prospective players could sign with the team of their choice. Many of the old timers lament the changes in baseball (and - in particular - in scouting) through the years. The tensions between the independent-minded, veteran scouts who sign players based on intuition and the number-crunching, "corporate," younger scouts is a major focus in the book.

I first heard of this book when Sports Illustrated listed it as one of the 100 best sports books of all time. After reading Dollar Sign, I think that the ranking was well deserved. Kerrane f came up with a real rarity - a unique sports book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on September 13, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
I enjoy the backstory of just about anything and this one about the men most of us have never heard of is one of the best. How did these players get into baseball? Pick it up and find out. Good read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on November 21, 2013
A throwback of a book, "Dollar Sign on the Muscle" focusses on the evolution of traditional baseball scouting. The bulk of the book reports on the 1981 scouting season, and it is a fascinating and entertaining read. And yes, it is a bout the history and evolution of scouting. But it's also about baseball in the late 1970's and early 1980's, about the style of play and the style of business. That era is under-represented in baseball literature, and this book fills in a lot of holes. It really is a terrific listen.
There's a new section about recent advances in scouting, SABRmetrics, "Moneyball," etc. That section is also very well done, but it's tacked on, and the story of scouting in the statistical era is under-told. It's still told well, but there's less depth to the coverage.
The reader has a good voice and an excellent pace, but mispronounces just enough names to notice.
It's very well done; if you are interested int he subject, you'll be pleased by the book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on August 11, 2014
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
While three decades old, this book still provides a fantastic description of the history, lifestyles, and philosophy of baseball scouting. I learned a great deal from reading it. It was especially fun for me to read about arguments regarding the top prospects in an early 1980's draft, because we know how their careers turned out. The fascination and frustration in both baseball scouting and baseball analytics is that they lack total prescience. There's no such thing as a pitching prospect, and there's no predicting baseball--but what fun would there be if we could?
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on February 3, 2014
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
Reminded me of Ball Four. I love a behind the scenes look at baseball. I always thought being a baseball scout would be a cool job. I'm not so sure about that know. Also, interesting on how the draft changed scouting. All in all, a good read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on January 7, 2014
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
Glad baseball prospectus brought this book back. Has insights on how scouting players started and how it has evolved through the years.
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