The Seattle Mariners organization is saddened by the passing of longtime scout Wayne Norton.
Norton, 75 (born Nov. 13, 1942), was diagnosed with ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease) in June, 2015.
“Wayne spent over 50 years in professional baseball as a player, coach and scout. He was responsible for thousands of young players in Canada having the opportunity to grow through the game of baseball, and for hundreds of young players having a chance to play professionally. More than that, he was truly one of the great gentlemen in the game,” said Mariners Vice President of Scouting Tom Allison. “Our thoughts tonight are with his wife Trudy, daughter Beth, son Steven and three grandchildren.”
“Wayne served as both a role model and a mentor for so many young scouts and coaches in both professional and amateur baseball,” said Tom McNamara, Mariners Special Assistant to the General Manager. “When I was hired by the Mariners as scouting director in 2008 it took me exactly one meeting with Wayne to know that I never had to worry about having Canada covered.”
Norton, a native of Port Moody, British Columbia, covered Canada as a Mariners scout beginning in 2000. He also previously served as the team’s coordinator for Europe and Canada. He was inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in June, 2016. Norton was named the Mariners International Scout of the Year in 2007, and Canadian Scout of the Year by the Canadian Baseball Network in 1998 and 2013.
Norton played over 1,200 games in the minor leagues. He was signed by the Yankees prior to the 1961 season and spent one year in their minor league system before being chosen by the Kansas City Athletics in the 1961 Rule 5 Draft. He spent the next nine seasons in the Kansas City/Oakland Athletics farm system, reaching AAA for four seasons (1967-70). Overall, Norton hit .242 with 107 home runs, 445 runs and 442 RBI in 1,206 minor league games, with 107 outfield assists.
Following his playing career, he became a trailblazing baseball executive and scout in Canada. In the mid-1970s, Norton founded and established Baseball Canada’s Junior National Team and he became a long-time coach and manager for the organization, while doubling as a part-time scout for the Montreal Expos. He also managed Canada’s Pan Am Games team in 1975, prior to helping to launch Baseball B.C. two years later. In the late 1970s, he was enlisted to create and write Baseball Canada’s first coaching manuals and many of the guidelines from those are still employed today.
In 1986, Norton established the National Baseball Institute (NBI) in Vancouver. Among the NBI graduates to play in the big leagues are 2015 Canadian Baseball Hall of Famers Matt Stairs (Fredericton, N.B.) and Corey Koskie (Anola, Man.), as well as Denis Boucher (Montreal, Que.), Steve Sinclair (Victoria, B.C.), Paul Spoljaric (Kelowna, B.C.), Rob Butler (East York, Ont.), Jason Dickson (Miramichi, N.B.), Aaron Guiel (Vancouver, B.C.) and Derek Aucoin (Lachine, Que.).
After leaving the NBI in 1994, Norton evolved into one of Canada’s most respected baseball scouts. He scouted for the Baltimore Orioles from 1996 to 1999 prior to joining the Seattle Mariners in 2000.