Top 100 Baseball Blog

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Les Norman: A Baseball Life

Outfielder Les Norman came to professional baseball as a draft pick from the middle rounds. Despite his rather humble entry, he made quick work of the major leagues and became one of the few to ascend to the major leagues.  

After a difficult childhood, the right-handed Norman attended the University of St. Francis in Joliet, Illinois. He was originally drafted by the Boston Red Sox in the 26th round in 1990. However, he declined to sign and ended up being taken a round earlier the following year by the Kansas City Royals.

Solid but unspectacular numbers in the minors earned Norman his ticket to the majors in 1995. His first big league hit was a single against Darren Oliver and the Texas Rangers on May 30th of that year.

Between 1995 and 1996 Norman bounced between the minors and the Royals. During that time he appeared in a total of 78 games and was used primarily off the bench, accumulating just 89 at bats. He hit a combined .169 with 4 RBIs.

The inability to find consistent playing time, along with nagging shoulder injuries curtailed his career. He played in the minors and independent ball before retiring following the 2005 season. He has remained in the game in multiple ways and has a lot to be proud of for what he has accomplished throughout his career.

Les Norman Interview

Who was your favorite player when you were growing up, and why?: A: Pete Rose- hustle and hitting  B: Ryne Sandberg-Played my fave position (second base) & team (Chicago Cubs)

What went into your decision to not sign with the Boston Red Sox after being drafted by them in 1990? In hindsight, did you make the right decision?: Without advice, I had a number set in my mind of signing bonus to pay for college and for a car (didn't have one).  My head wasn't in the right place; heart wasn't very humble, so I didn't sign.  I DID make the right decision. If I would have signed, I wasn't emotionally ready to handle pro ball, and most likely wouldn't have made it to the MLB.  Also, I met my bride through playing MLB in Kansas City, so I believe God used it to A: teach me a HUGE lesson; B: find my family; and C: forge my path into media.

What do you remember most about your major league debut?: Besides the excitement of a dream fulfilled, that when I walked up to home plate the pitcher looked like he was about 10 feet away, and that his 80 mph fastball looked like 100. Shaking and nervous, to say the least.

In your opinion, who was the most talented player you ever played with or against? What made them stand out so much?: Ken Griffey Jr.  Amazing athleticism; the game was slow for him.

What is your favorite moment from your baseball career?: Hitting a game-winning triple against Toronto in the second game of a double header to help the Royals take the Wild Card lead.
What pitcher that you faced had the nastiest stuff, and what made them so tough?: 1) Lefty Norm Charlton.  Nasty screwball and tough to read.  2) Righty Jeff Nelson. Big, submarine pitcher with a FILTHY slider. Almost untouchable.

How easy is it to get acclimated to a major league clubhouse after getting called up for the first time?: Wasn't tough for me, knew to stay quiet and learn.  Mark Gubicza and Jeff Montgomery helped me learn that early.

What is one thing you would have liked to accomplish at the major league level that you weren't able to do?: Hit a home run.  Have 104 in the minors, but none in two years in the majors.  

 What are you up to since retiring as a player?: 1.  Married to my bride Kristin for 20 years, sons Mack (16) and Tayt (12), both ball players.
 2.  Host my own syndicated radio show, "Breakin' the Norm" based in Kansas City, Missouri (
 3.  On the Royals Alumni Board of Directors, active in working with Royals Charities and community work.
 4.  National Motivational/Keynote Speaker for businesses, churches, and schools.
 5.  Published author of "Teaching the Tools of Hitting" (Nov. '15).
 6.  TV analyst for Royals "Blue Zone" Show on Spectrum Sports Cable Channel.
 7.  TV analyst for Cox Cable/Spectrum Sports telecasts of Royals Double-A NWA Naturals & Triple-A Omaha Storm Chasers minor league broadcasts.
 8.  Radio Royals Analyst on KC's Sports Radio 810WHB's "Between the Lines" and "Baseball Tonight" shows.

You can check me out on Facebook or follow me on Twitter @historianandrew

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