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PASSINGS / John Robert 'Red' Murff

Mets scout found Nolan Ryan

December 01, 2008|Times Staff and Wire Reports

John Robert "Red" Murff, 87, the New York Mets scout who discovered Hall of Fame pitcher Nolan Ryan, died Friday at a nursing home in Tyler, Texas. The cause of death was not given.

Murff filed this report on 17-year-old Ryan of Alvin, Texas, in 1964:

"Skinny right-handed junior. Has the best arm I've ever seen in my life. Could be a real power pitcher someday."

Although Ryan stood 6 feet 2 and could throw a baseball 100 mph, he weighed only 150 pounds as a high school player and often had no idea where his fastball was going, putting off most scouts who came to watch him pitch.

"Murff was different because he met my parents once," Ryan recalled later. "He saw how big my dad was [6 feet 4, 240 pounds]. He saw my genetic potential."

The Mets took a chance, making Ryan the 295th player taken in the 1965 draft. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1999 and is now president of the Texas Rangers.

Born April 1, 1921, in Burlington, Texas, Murff pitched for the Milwaukee Braves from 1956 to 1957, going 2-2 with three saves and a 4.65 earned-run average in 26 appearances.

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