By Tim Hevly
The Seattle Mariners minor leaguers defeated the Langley Blaze 5-2 in the first Wayne Norton Memorial Game Sunday in Peoria, Az. at the Mariners spring training site. The Mariners team was composed of players who appeared at class-A Everett, Peoria and the rookie-class Mariners Dominican facility last year.
Norton (Port Moody, BC) scouted Canada for the Mariners from 2000 until he passed away on Jan. 6 this year from the effects of ALS. Norton had over 50 years in ball as a player, coach and scout and was a trailblazing executive in Canada. He was elected to the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in June, 2016.
Twice Norton was named the Canadian Baseball Network Scout of the Yeear, an award named after Jim Ridley (Burlington, Ont.), who worked for the Toronto Blue Jays from 1977 to 2002 and then the Minnesota Twins until his death.
Ljay Newsome started for the Mariners team and worked four innings. Jose Sandoval had the decisive blow, a three-run homer, and also tripled. And Ryan Garcia doubled.
Right fielder Jaydon Knight (Langley, BC), who’s committed to the University of British Columbia, had a pair of hits for the Blaze. Langley head coach Doug Matheson, one of Norton’s close friends, said he was impressed by the game Denzell Clarke (Pickering, Ont.) played. Clarke, who had a base hit, is committed to Cal State Northridge.
Trevin Hope, of Blaine, Wash. started for Langley. He’ll graduate from Lynden High School in June.
Following the game, James Paxton (Delta, BC) spoke to the Langley club.
The Mariners game was the second of the day for Langley. Earlier, the Blaze played first and second-year pros from the Cincinnati Reds. Knight was 2-for-2 against the Reds. Clarke also had a hit facing the Reds.
From the Norton family
The Norton family is greatly touched and honoured that the annual spring training game between the Blaze and the Mariners will be known as the Wayne Norton memorial game
February and March marked the beginning of the new year for Wayne ever since his first spring training as a rookie in 1963. For Wayne the spring training period was always about potential and promise - as a player, as a coach, as an administrator and as a scout. This year was no exception, already there were dates on his calendar and players on his list to follow for the year.
Wayne was a big believer in players that showed “heart” and “perseverance” in their pursuit of becoming the best that they could be, both on and off the field. Wayne was more than a numbers guy, and this annual game epitomizes the way that Wayne gave players opportunities to show “heart and perseverance”.
If he was here, he would be telling players to focus, to work hard, to hustle and to love the game. He certainly did.
And he would be expressing sincere gratitude for this tribute to his baseball career - especially to his almost twenty years as a scout for the Mariners.
All of the Norton family are thrilled that his work and his life are being recognized in such a meaningful way.
With a deep felt gratitude we thank everyone behind the scenes that have made this possible, all of the players and support staff, both present, past and future. And we wish everyone the greatest support in reaching their goals as Wayne would have been behind each and every one of you.