Bill Kearns, a longtime scout for the Mariners who pushed for the signing of Ken Griffey Jr. in 1987, died Thursday at 94 after being hospitalized near his Boston-area home for a ruptured aorta. He began with the Mariners in their inaugural season in 1976-77 covering the New England region.
“Bill was a gentleman, in the finest sense, and represented his family and the Mariners in a first-class manner,” Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik said in a statement. “He was an excellent scout, a true ambassador of the Mariners and the game of baseball. Bill was one of the most positive people I have ever met. He will be missed.”
A career minor leaguer as a player with the Brooklyn Dodgers, Kearns moved into scouting with the White Sox and Kansas City Royals before joining the Mariners. In 2013, Kearns was honored as one of Major League Baseball’s Scouts of the Year.
Kearns was part of a scouting department in 1987 that conspired to get a reluctant owner, George Argyros, to draft Griffey. Kearns spent three days scouting Griffey and said, “He is easily the best looking all around player I’ve ever seen.”
For a look at the turning point in Mariners’ history, here’s an excerpt from Art Thiel’s book, “Out of Left Field.”