Norman Wood Charlton III
- Bats Both, Throws Left
- Height 6' 3", Weight 205 lb.
- School Rice University
- Debut August 19, 1988
- Final Game October 7, 2001
- Born January 6, 1963 in Fort Polk, LA USA
Norm Charlton pitched 13 years in the majors, getting 97 saves and 51 victories. A strikeout artist with considerable speed, he threw a mid-90s fastball, a curveball, and a forkball, and had a major league career strikeouts per nine innings ratio of 8.1. In his peak year, 1993, his SO/9 was 12.5.
The winningest major league pitcher out of Rice University, Charlton was selected by the Montreal Expos in the supplemental first round of the 1984 amateur draft and signed by scouts Red Murff and Roy McMillan. He was dealt to the Cincinnati Reds for Wayne Krenchicki prior to the 1986 season and made his big league debut in the Reds' rotation in 1988, making 10 starts. He was moved to the bullpen in 1989 and was part of the team's "Nasty Boys" trio along with Rob Dibble and Randy Myers. While he and Dibble are often remembered together because they both had high SO/9 ratios, Charlton lasted 13 seasons and 900 innings while Dibble was only in the majors for 7 years and less than 500 innings.
Charlton won 12 games as a reliever and spot starter in 1990 as his team won the NL West title. In the NLCS, he took the loss in Game One but came back and didn't allow a run in three more outings as the Reds reached the World Series. He pitched one inning in the Series as Cincinnati swept the Oakland Athletics.
With the departure of Myers from the Reds pen in 1992, Charlton took over as the team's closer, saving 26 games. He was then traded to the Seattle Mariners for Kevin Mitchell and recorded 18 saves for them in 1993 before suffering an injury and undergoing Tommy John surgery.
After missing the entire 1994 campaign, he came back with the Philadelphia Phillies in 1995 but posted a 7.36 ERA before being released on July 10th. In search of a closer, the Mariners signed him four days later. He posted a 1.51 ERA and 14 saves in 30 games with the M's that year. The next year, in 1996, he saved 20 games sharing closing duties with Mike Jackson, but fell apart in 1997. Splitting the closer's job with Bobby Ayala, he went 3-8 with 14 saves and a 7.27 ERA, eventually losing the closer's job outright to Ayala by mid-season.
He began the 1998 campaign with the Baltimore Orioles setting up for Armando Benitez, but struggled there, as well, going 2-1 with a 6.94 ERA before his release on July 28th. He was picked up by the Atlanta Braves on August 5th, subsequently appearing in 13 games posting a 1.38 ERA.
He pitched with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays in 1999, appearing in 42 games, finishing nine of them and going 2-3 with no saves and a 4.42 ERA. He was released at the end of spring training in 2000 and was picked up by the Reds, his old homestead, on April 9th. Unfortunately, his two games were disastrous. In three innings of work, he surrendered six hits, six walks, nine runs (all earned), one home run, a wild pitch, while only striking out one batter. This performance earned his third mid-season release in five years on April 28th. This time, though, no other club picked him up and his career appeared finished.
He was in camp with the Mariners once again as a non-roster invitee in 2001. He and Ryan Franklin were battling each other for the final roster spot and the competition went down to the wire, with both pitching very well. It looked as if Franklin was going to beat out Charlton, but Paul Abbott was placed on the disabled list, allowing Charlton a spot on the 25-man roster. He appeared in 44 games as a middle reliever, going 4-2 with a 3.02 ERA, even saving one game. Charlton decided to hang 'em up after this great season.
Starting in 2003, Charlton was a minor league coach in the Seattle organization. He was appointed as the team's major league bullpen coach for the 2008 season but was let go following the year in favor of John Wetteland.
As of 2011 he runs a charter fishing trip operation in Texas.
"I like his composure. He shows a lot of confidence out there."-Roger Craig