Bill Kearns, A50, Major League Baseball Scout, Dies

Former Brooklyn Dodgers shortstop was signed by the legendary Branch Rickey

Bill Kearns being interviewed on the radio

William Kearns, A50, Major League Baseball’s 2013 Scout of the Year and a member of the Seattle Mariners organization since its inception in 1976, died on Jan. 1. He was 93.

As a player and a scout, he was part of professional baseball for nearly 70 years. He remained an active scout with the Mariners until his death, attending more than 200 games a year as well as spring training.

He served in the Navy during World War II and was present during the signing of the peace treaty in Tokyo Bay. In 1948, Kearns was signed as a shortstop by Brooklyn Dodgers General Manager Branch Rickey, who is best known for breaking MLB’s color barrier by signing Jackie Robinson and for helping to build the modern-day minor league farm system. Kearns played shortstop for four years in the Dodgers’ minor leagues, completing his Tufts degree during the off-seasons. Among his teammates were the future big league players Al Campanis, Carl Erskine, Bobby Bragan, Norm Larker and Cal Abrams.

At Tufts, he was a three-sport star, and in 1983, he received the Jumbo Club Award, which recognizes those who embody the spirit of athletics at Tufts.

Kearns started scouting part-time for the Dodgers in 1953, while teaching mathematics and coaching basketball at Somerset and Weymouth high schools in Massachusetts. He later was inducted into the Massachusetts State High School Basketball Coaches Hall of Fame.

He also scouted part-time for the Chicago White Sox and Kansas City Royals, before Lou Gorman, the scouting director for the Royals, was hired as the first general manager of the Seattle Mariners expansion team. Kearns was one of Gorman’s first hires, in May 1976—even before the franchise had a name, logo and team colors.

“He was the ultimate gentleman, very dapper and very respectful,” Jeff Scott, the Mariners’ former assistant director of player development, told “He was so polite, but he had strong opinions, and when he spoke up, you knew he was dead set on something. Everybody in the game respected him.”

The Professional Baseball Scouts Foundation presented Kearns with the George Genovese Award for Achievement in Scouting in 2007. When he was honored as a Scout of the Year at the MLB Winter Meetings in December 2013, Kearns said, “I have no regrets when I think of all the time I’ve spent in this great game.”

Back to Top