Whenever Wayne Norton came to the plate during his three seasons with the Triple-A Vancouver Mounties from 1966-68, he was introduced to the CKWX radio audience as ‘The Pride of Port Moody’ by a young, crew-cutted play-by-play broadcaster you may have heard of named Jim Robson. Wherever Wayne’s lifelong baseball journey took him throughout the world and in whatever role—as a player, coach, manager, administrator, scout—Port Moody always remained home. If you go out to Westhill Park in Port Moody today, you’ll find young kids playing at the Wayne Norton Baseball Diamond named in his honour. You couldn’t find a better tribute to a man who devoted so much to the development of young ball players in Canada.

Born in Winnipeg, Wayne grew up in Port Moody where he starred in high school playing baseball and basketball. Spotted by a New York Yankees scout while on a basketball scholarship at Spokane’s Whitworth College, Wayne played over 1200 minor league games over ten seasons and shared outfield duty alongside legends Reggie Jackson and Joe Rudi.

After retiring, Wayne became one of the driving forces behind improving development opportunities for young BC and Canadian ball players. From 1973-86, he served as Baseball BC’s founding executive director developing programs and coaching manuals still in use today. At the same time Wayne founded and managed Canada’s junior national team based in BC. He also coached and managed Canada’s senior national team, most prominently at the 1975 Pan American Games.

Wayne is best known for devising the idea of the National Baseball Institute and then gaining the support of Toronto Blue Jays general manager Pat Gillick to fund the program. With Wayne as general manager, from 1986-94 the NBI developed numerous top Canadian prospects who later played in the major leagues including Corey Koskie, Matt Stairs, and Rob Butler.

After serving as a part-time scout for the Montreal Expos earlier in his career, later Wayne worked as a widely respected scout for both the Baltimore Orioles (1996-99) and Seattle Mariners (2000-17). Diagnosed with ALS in 2015, he bravely continued to scout games from his wheelchair until just months before his death in 2018.

Written and researched by Jason Beck, Curator of the BC Sports Hall of Fame.