Obit of the Day: On the Radar
It’s pretty easy to find the scouts at a baseball game. They are armed with two items that most regular baseball fans don’t tote with them to the ballpark: a stopwatch and a radar gun. The guns, like those used by the police, are used to determine the speed of the ball as it leaves the pitchers hand. Simply point, aim, shoot and a number pops up - if you’re lucky that number is somewhere in the mid- to upper-90s on a fastball.
The man who brought the radar gun to baseball was Hal Keller, a scout for the Washington Senators and Texas Rangers. Keller, who got the idea from Michigan State baseball coach Danny Litwhiler, realized that an accurate measurement of pitch speed would make the lives of scouts much easier. Before Keller, determining pitch speed involved a lot of math. Dividing the distance from the mound to home plate - 60’ 6” - by the time the pitch took to arrive in the catcher’s mitt would get you an approximate speed. (For those with an affinity for physics and formulas - v=d/t.) With the radar gun you simply write down the numbers you see.
Keller’s work as a scout earned him a reputation that led him to the general manager’s office of the Seattle Mariners for the 1984 and 1985 seasons. During his time the Mariners would win 148 games versus 176 losses for an unimpressive .457 winning percentage but he also helped sign some of the team’s earliest stars including Alvin Davis, Harold Reynolds, and Mark Langston.
Keller who received the George Genovese Lifetime Achievement Award in scouting from the Professional Baseball Scouts Foundation in 2010 was also the brother of Yankee outfielder and five-time All Star Charlie “King Kong” Keller. Hal Keller died at the age of 84.
Additional source: seattletimes.com
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