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Dollar Sign on the Muscle [Kindle Edition]

Kevin Kerrane
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $21.89
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Book Description


the men who can make--or break--careers, the men who, more than any others, were responsible for getting Mike Schmidt, Al Kaline, Darryl Strawberry, Mickey Mantle, Roberto Clemente, Sandy Koufax, and Brooks Robinson--to name just a few--into their major league positions.

Here is all the inside information--trade secrets, player development, original scouting reports; the history and economics of this pivotal side of baseball, and how the scouting system is changing--from the baseball scouts themselves. This edition includes an all-new chapter updating the original with thoughts on the state of scouting in 2013.


"The story of a quest is one of the most basic and essential narratives in human existence. Kevin Kerrane strains the Homeric through the voices of American baseball scouts, those journeymen who search the sandlots for raw athletic potential. Dollar Sign on The Muscle was essential reading when it first arrived nearly three decades ago. And now, as big money has arrived to magnify the entire dynamic, Kerrane has returned to update his classic.

"They use 'inside baseball' as a term to suggest esoteric knowledge. That's ridiculous. The inside is where anything worth knowing actually begins to matter." -- David Simon, creator, The Wire and Treme


"An entertaining, in-depth look at a fascinating part of baseball invisible to most. I loved this book." -- Tim Kurkjian, ESPN

"Dollar Sign on the Muscle is the scouting bible for the baseball executive as well as the baseball enthusiast." -- Kevin Towers, General Manager, Arizona Diamondbacks

"Updating a classic is always risky, but given the dramatic changes in baseball since Dollar Sign's original publication, the time had certainly come for a modernized examination of the game... and who better to give it to us than Kevin Kerrane and Baseball Prospectus." -- Dan O'Dowd, General Manager, Colorado Rockies

"The last word on a profession even baseball fans may find they knew little about." -- Sports Illustrated

"One of baseball literature's most noble and enjoyable works." -- Diamond Classics

"A must read for anyone who wants the inside stories on baseball scouts and the happenings on their daily quest for the next MLB all-star." -- Don Welke, Senior Special Assistant to the GM & Scouting, Texas Rangers

Editorial Reviews


"The author spent a year with the Phillies' scouts when they were arguably the best judges of raw talent in the major leagues. The often hard lives of baseball's underpaid hunter-gatherers are rendered in lively detail."—Sports Illustrated
(Sports Illustrated )

"A fascinating look at the world of the baseball scout . . . some of the best baseball tall tales you’ll ever read."—Wall Street Journal
(Wall Street Journal )

"The scouts who seek out major league prospects are like explorers, wandering the country’s amateur diamonds in the hope of finding a treasure—or a raw talent that can be turned into a treasure. A lot of what romance remains in baseball centers on this perennial quest, and Kerrane . . . captures it in this wonderfully affectionate book."—People
(People )

"This study [is] mesmerizing, for it deals with getting the most, pound-per-dollar, for the goods: young baseball flesh. . . . That baseball is a business has never been made so clear. Both narrative and characters are engaging, and Kerrane . . . writes with passionate clarity."—Library Journal
(Library Journal )

"One of the best baseball books to hit the shelves in recent memory . . . the story of the men behind the muscle mart . . . Kerrane scrutinizes this sometimes frantic, sometimes nostalgic, sometimes inspiring world. . . . For those in the stands, Dollar Sign offers a rare behind-the-scenes look at America’s national pastime."—Philadelphia Inquirer
(Philadelphia Inquirer )

"One of baseball literature’s most noble and enjoyable works."—Diamond Classics
(Diamond Classics )

About the Author

In a new epilogue Kevin Kerrane explores the world of baseball scouting in the late 1990s. Kerrane is a professor of English at the University of Delaware.

Product Details

  • File Size: 1616 KB
  • Print Length: 377 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00GK5NKB0
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #461,028 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Classic November 18, 2007
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
5.0 out of 5 stars very enjoyable November 28, 1999
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, 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
5.0 out of 5 stars A masterpiece March 6, 2008
By Vrai
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
5.0 out of 5 stars Hat's Off March 27, 2008
By Kurt
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
4.0 out of 5 stars Inside the World of Baseball Scouting June 26, 2011
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
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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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Good read.
Good read. Definitely dated. I found it quite humorous. I bought the book for my boys because it has a small snippet of my late father in law.
Published 25 days ago by C. Proulx
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
It was satisfactory - looking forward to reading the updated version
Published 1 month ago by Kathleen A Colgan
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book of you long for the good old days of baseball and when...
Excellently written book about the little known world of the professional baseball scout. Particularly enjoyable for me since the Philadelphia Phillies are referenced numerous... Read more
Published 1 month ago by John Leonard
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
a great read for real fans of the game
Published 2 months ago by Cardinal Fan
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely fascinating stories about how Scouts over the years pick-up...
Absolutely fascinating stories about how Scouts over the years pick-up new talent and what they look for. Can't put the book down!
Published 2 months ago by Marlene F. Evans
5.0 out of 5 stars Great
Great book in great shape
Published 3 months ago by Samuel Meza
3.0 out of 5 stars Great! Knew some of the ushers mentioned in this ...
As a CUb fan, Great! Knew some of the ushers mentioned in this book.
Published 4 months ago by maryann murphy
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
great read!
Published 4 months ago by Michael Juhl
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
If you love baseball, you'll love this book. It's an insiders look at what it takes.
Published 4 months ago by Nelson
5.0 out of 5 stars he liked it.
gift for grandson, he liked it.
Published 4 months ago by Marilyn G.
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