Baseball Prospectus recently republished Kevin Kerrane’s classic (ranked by Sports Illustrated as the 52nd best sports book of all time) on scouts and scouting, Dollar Sign on the Muscle. I was fortunate enough to help edit the new version and can tell you it is a fascinating read that has changed the way I think about baseball.
Although Kerrane wrote this about the Phillies scouts he shadowed during the 1981 season, his words touch on many with ties to the Padres, including Larry Bowa, Joe Carter, Mark Davis, Tony Gwynn, Mike Ivie, Chris James, Randy Jones, and Kevin McReynolds. The following excerpt features Rich “Goose” Gossage and Leon “Bip” Roberts.
To learn more about Dollar Sign on the Muscle, including what experts are saying, additional excerpts, and how to buy the book, click here.
In the Philadelphia scouting files I found an old report, dated May 27, 1970, and stamped WILBUR H. JOHNSON. It was Moose’s description of Richard Gossage who, before he became famous as “Goose,” had been a skinny high-schooler (6’2″ and 175 pounds) from Colorado Springs. The report read:
A tall, lanky RHP. Possesses a plus arm with a loose delivery off a good body. Delivers his FB off a low ¾ and also sidearm—with his CB from ¾ but will probably have to resort to a hard slider. His FB moves into RH-hitters and with a sinking effect. But with added weight of 20 pounds or so as he goes into manhood, he could develop a wicky FB with even more movement. His body can easily take the added weight. His potential is promising. Only a fair or borderline student—so should sign.
On Saturday and Sunday the scouts spent twelve hours discussing 175 more players who had been categorized as High A ($16,000 to $30,999), Mid A ($6,000 to $15,999), and Low A ($300 to $5,999). Another 77 players were listed on a sheet marked WNS, pronounced winnis, which stood for “Would Not Select.” Some were there because their skills didn’t match any known position on a baseball field. A high-school outfielder named Gregory Morhardt was described in Dick Lawlor’s reports as having “Pete Rose desire and a showcase arm.” But he was a bean, 6′ and 160 pounds, who lacked speed as well as power. Told that Morhardt’s best time at 60 yards was seven seconds flat, Jim Baumer said simply, “Winnis him.” Read More…