Mariners' longtime scout Kearns dies at 94

SEATTLE -- Bill Kearns, who was a Mariners scout in the New England region since the club's inception in 1976, died of a ruptured aorta on Thursday morning at the age of 94.

Kearns was honored as one of Major League Baseball's Scouts of the Year in 2013.

"Bill was a gentleman, in the finest sense, and represented his family and the Mariners in a first-class manner," said general manager Jack Zduriencik. "And 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."

Kearns woke up at 2 a.m. Thursday not feeling well at his Boston home and drove himself to the hospital, a family member told Zduriencik. Kearns passed away later in the day with family members at his side.

He graduated from Watertown (Mass.) High School in 1940 before attending Brighton Academy, where he was a standout baseball and basketball player. He then enlisted in the Navy at the start of World War II and served throughout the war as a submarine chaser before returning to school at Tufts University.

A standout shortstop, Kearns was signed to a contract with the Brooklyn Dodgers by Branch Rickey and spent four seasons playing in the Minor Leagues. He eventually got into scouting and worked for the Dodgers, White Sox and Royals before Mariners general manager Lou Gorman hired him in 1976.

Even in his 90s, Kearns remained active as a scout and attended about 200 games a year in the Boston area.

Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.