Wayne Norton was a baseball lifer. Norton, a driving force behind the development of baseball in his native Canada, passed away Saturday at the age of 75, nearly three years after being diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease). The native of Port Moody, British Columbia, was an 18-year-old outfielder when he signed with the Yankees in 1961. Norton appeared in 1,206 Minor League games over the next 10 years, the last nine in the A’s organization, and then he transitioned to the roles of scout and executive.
It was a challenge in recent years. Norton was initially diagnosed with severe arthritis more than a handful of years ago, and then ALS. It limited his his mobility, but not his commitment to his passion, which also happened to be his job — looking for Canadian talent with big league ability.
It was therapeutic.
“It was a carrot on the stick,” said his widow, Trudy, who met Norton in high school in Port Moody.
In recent years, Trudy had become Wayne’s ballpark companion, helping him navigate through the physical limitation.
“I can recognize a fastball really well,” she said with a laugh a couple years ago. “A curve or a changeup, they’re still a bit subtle.”