Wayne Norton

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Wayne Lester Norton

BR Minors page

Biographical Information[edit]

Outfielder Wayne Norton played minor league ball for a decade. After his playing days, he was a longtime scout and an executive for Baseball Canada.

Signed by the New York Yankees prior to the 1961 season, Norton played one year in their chain, hitting 238/?/.307 for the St. Petersburg Saints prior to being selected by the Kansas City Athletics in the 1961 Rule V Draft. He then hit .265/.369/.486 with 21 home runs, 71 walks and 81 runs for the Lewiston Broncs in 1962. He ranked third in the Northwest League in home runs, 3 behind future major leaguer Billy Cowan and two shy of Nelson Mathews, another future big leaguer. He also ranked 9th in the NWL in walks. He had 17 outfield assists but 14 errors.

In 1963, Norton struggled with Lewiston (.236/.356/.351 in 67 G) and the Binghamton Triplets (.198/.314/.348 in 53 G). He had 13 errors with only 7 assists. He put up a .238/?/.404 line with 17 home runs for the Birmingham Barons. He tied Ron Henry for 11th in the Southern League in dingers. He remained with the Barons in 1965 and fell to .226/.322/.335 with 9 home runs, though he had 17 assists while fielding .984. He made it to AAA with the 1966 Vancouver Mounties, hitting .262/.362/.429 with 11 home runs (tied with Tommie Reynolds for second on the team, 2 behind Rick Joseph).

With the great Birmingham A's in 1967, his teammates included Reggie Jackson, Rollie Fingers, Joe Rudi, Tony La Russa, and Dave Duncan. Norton had a poor year, hitting .221/.332/.332 in 92 games for the Barons and only .131/.180/.190 in 37 contests for Vancouver. He also split 1968 between Birmingham (.282/.347/.443 in 76 G) and Vancouver (.238/.309/.294 in 59 G).

He had a brief brush with the majors leagues in 1969 when he was told he was being called up by the A's to replace an injured Rick Monday; however, the team changed its mind before he got on an airplane to join the club and called up Allan Lewis instead. For the season, he hit .259/.318/.367 with 20 doubles and 8 home runs for the Iowa Oaks, with 17 assists and 10 errors. He was second in the 1969 American Association in outfield assists (a distant 10 behind Jim Holt) and 4th in errors (3 behind Leron Lee). After hitting .243/.338/.409 with 14 homers, 10 assists and a .995 fielding percentage for the Oaks in 1970, he retired as a player. The other 25 players in the 1970 American Association with more than 10 home runs would all spend time in the majors during their careers. He also led AA outfielders in fielding percentage just one year after having made the top 5 in errors.

Overall, Norton had hit .242 with 107 home runs, 445 runs and 442 RBI in 1,206 minor league games, with 107 outfield assists.

Since his playing days, Norton worked at the Jewish Community Centre in Vancouver, BC. He then worked with Team Canada as a coach, manager and executive, creating the junior national team. He managed Canada in the 1975 Pan American Games. He wrote the first Team Canada manuals for coaches. In 1986, he helped found the National Baseball Institute which produced Matt Stairs, Aaron Guiel, Corey Koskie, Denis Boucher and Rob Butler among others before folding in 2000.

He has also worked as a scout for decades. Starting out as a part-timer with the Montreal Expos, he later spent three years on the Baltimore Orioles staff. Since 2000, he has been with the Seattle Mariners, signing first-round draft pick Phillippe Aumont, as well as big leaguers Bobby Madritsch, George Sherrill, Mike Saunders, Alex Liddi, and Greg Halman. Among the minor leaguers he signed were Tyson Gillies, Daniel Thieben, Tom De Blok, Jeroen de Haas, Tyler O'Neill, Scott Ronnenbergh, Dylan Unsworth and Kalian Sams. He has been the Mariners' scouting coordinator for Canada and Europe.

Norton was inducted in the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame as part of its 2016 class. He was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig's disease) in 2015 and died from this early in 2018.

Further Reading[edit]

  • Greg Johns: "Mariners international scout Norton dies at 75:'He was truly one of the great gentlemen in the game,' Allison says", mlb.com, January 6, 2018. [1]
  • Tracy Ringolsby: "Norton left indelible mark on Canada, baseball: Late scout helped grow game in native country, uncover international talent", mlb.com, January 8, 2018. [2]

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