Norton, Charles (1998)
His nicknames are “Charlie,” - “’Chuck” - or “Chick”
“Take your pick,” laughs Charles Norton. But no matter what you call him, including out or safe, “Chick” Norton is regarded as one of the best baseball players produced in Maine.
Today, he follows his brother, Omar P. Norton into the Maine Baseball Hall of Fame. Omar was inducted in 1996.
“While | believe that my own selection was deserved and an honor I cherish, I freely admit that “Chick” is more deserving,” said Omar.
“Eastport had an exceptionally strong town team from 1948 to 1952 and played teams from throughout Maine and New Brunswick “Chick” was the unquestioned leader of this team. He was our best player by far and people he played with and against speak of his ability to hit and field a baseball.
‘I cite these particular years because that was when the strongest teams performed in Eastport. He, however, continued playing until 1961 when the slide in the quality of semi-professional baseball was well under way Down East The diffident smile on “Chick” Norton’s face in the University of Maine's 1943 team photo gives little insight into the skills this Eastport native brought to the diamond.
“| have seen and played with or against many fine athletes,” said Tony Tammaro of Woodland. “Chick’ Norton, however, is undoubtedly one of the best position players to hail from Maine.”
A 1940 graduate of Shead Memorial High School, Norton attended the University of Chicago where an uncle was a member of the faculty. The reason ts that “Chick” was double-graded three times in secondary school and received his high school diploma at the age of 14.
“My parents decided that “Chick” was too young to go off to college without family support,” remembers Omar.
After one year, “Chick’ transferred to Maine, losing a year of eligibility. In 1943, at the age of 17, he played shortstop for the Black Bears under Coach Bill Kenyon.
The following year, because of World War II, Maine did not field a team. After graduation, Norton entered the Army in July, 1945. He was sent to Oak Ridge, Tennessee, where, as an engineer, he worked on the development of the atomic bomb.
Playing for the post team, against some of the best talent in the country, he drew the attention of several scouts. Recommended to Branch Rickey by Dixie Walker, he was offered a contract with the Dodgers.
But he decided to sign with the Yankees and had an outstanding season in 1947 with Amsterdam (N.Y.) in the Canadian-American League. One of his teammates was Lew Burdette. Norton hit. 300, and made the All-Star team. But just before the playoffs, he broke his left thumb and returned to Eastport.
Paul Kritchell, the chief Yankee scout, visited Norton. He tried to persuade “Chick” to return to professional baseball (at Binghamton, N.Y.) the next season.
Norton, however, elected to return to the University of Maine and complete a Master’s degree in education. He then returned to Eastport, where he taught, coached and played for several years. In 1951 his baseball team won the Eastern Maine championship over previously undefeated Hartland Academy, but lost to South Paris in the state final.
From 1948 to 1961, Norton played for the Eastport Lobsters with the exception of one summer when he represented the Woodland Red Sox.
“It was a treat to watch this great athlete even warm up,” said Tammaro.
“He had a strong, accurate throwing arm combined with smooth and deceptive speed. He was a contact hitter who rarely struck out and a batter who could hit one out of the park.”
Bats: Left • Throws: Unknown
6-0, 165lb (183cm, 74kg)
Born: July 25, 1924 in Eastport, ME us
Died: April 7, 2012 (Aged 87-257d) in Bangor, ME
High School: Shead HS (Eastport, ME)
School: University of Maine at Orono (Orono, ME)
Full Name: Charles Carroll Norton
April 10, 2012 7:59 pm
BREWER and ZEPHYRHILLS, Fla. – Charles Carroll Norton passed away peacefully April 7, 2012, in Bangor. The son of Marcia (Reynolds) and Charles Norton Sr., he was born July 25, 1924, in Eastport.