OAKLAND -- Hal Keller, who drafted, signed and developed some of the best players in the early years of the Rangers franchise, passed away on Tuesday at his home in Sequim, Wash. He was 84.
Keller worked in player development for the expansion Washington Senators in 1961-62 and 1965-71. He moved to Texas with the franchise in 1972 and remained with them until 1978. Among the players who passed through the system under his watching included Jeff Burroughs, Mike Hargrove, Toby Harrah, Bill Madlock, Roy Smalley and Jim Sundberg.
"I was having trouble with the scout who was trying to sign me and I was told to call Hal directly," Sundberg said. "When I did that, I was signed right away. I have very fond memories of Hal and we stayed in touch. He was a very committed baseball guy. He did a lot of the Senators and the Rangers in those early years. He was a good baseball guy that understood talent."
Keller is believed to be one of the original scouts to use the radar gun, which is now an integral part of both scouting, media coverage and fan entertainment at ballparks.
"Hal Keller signed me to my first contract in 1966 when I was 18 years old," Rangers Hall of Famer Tom Grieve said. "He was one of the most respected talent evaluators in the game but more importantly was one of the most well-liked individuals in baseball. Along with many others, I will miss a great friend, and my thoughts are with his wife Carol and his entire family."
Keller, born July 7, 1927, was the younger brother of Yankees outfielder Charlie Keller, who spent his career in the same lineup with Joe DiMaggio. Hal Keller graduated from the University of Maryland and spent seven seasons in the Senators organization. He played in 25 games at the Major League level.
After leaving the Rangers, he spent seven seasons with the Mariners and also scouted for the Angels, Tigers and Tigers. He received the George Genovese Lifetime Achievement Award in Scouting from the Professional Baseball Scouts Foundation at its seventh annual banquet.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.