Gregory Blakemoor Norton
- Bats Both, Throws Right
- Height 6' 1", Weight 190 lb.
- School University of Oklahoma
- High School Bishop O'Dowd High School
- Debut August 18, 1996
- Final Game October 4, 2009
- Born July 6, 1972 in San Leandro, CA USA
Greg Norton, a thirteen-season major leaguer, was back in the majors in 2006-2009 after spending 2005 in the minors. His best major league season was 2006 with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays when he batted .296 with 17 home runs in 98 games. He was also part of the division-winning Chicago White Sox in 2000.
He started the 2008 season going 6-for-12 with the Seattle Mariners but ended up spending most of the season appearing in 111 games for the Atlanta Braves. His Adjusted OPS+ of 114 in 2008 was the second-best of his career.
Although he appeared at third base more than any other position in the majors, during his 2006-2009 second round in the majors he did not play at all at third.
The San Francisco Giants drafted him out of high school in the 7th round of the 1990 amateur draft, but he chose college instead. He hit over .300 each year with the University of Oklahoma, with doubles power but not many home runs. His teammates there included Russ Ortiz.
In 1993, he was drafted by the Chicago White Sox in the 2nd round after he hit .370/~.452/.559 in his junior year at Oklahoma. He was briefly in the rookie league and then with the Hickory Crawdads in Single A. He hit under .250 in both places - 2 for 9 for the GCL White Sox and .244/~.349/.354 for Hickory.
1994 found him with the South Bend White Sox of the Midwest League, posting averages of .287/.369/.379. He moved up to the Birmingham Barons, in the Double A Southern League, in 1995, with averages of .249/~.344/.345. Birmingham is known as a pitchers' park, so averages tend to be low there. That was not the case in 1995, though, as the Barons were 4th in the SL in average at .264. Norton's .938 fielding led the league's third basemen.
Back in Birmingham in 1996, he improved to .282/~.360/.436, and was moved up to Triple A with the Nashville Sounds where his .287/~.358/.524 batting line got him a look at the big leagues. He came up for 11 games with the White Sox in 1996, hitting 2 home runs with a .217 average.
Norton had an obvious problem. The White Sox were set at third base with Robin Ventura, at shortstop with Ozzie Guillen, and at first base with Frank Thomas. Ventura was also a California boy who had gone to college in Oklahoma, only at Oklahoma State University. So Norton returned to Nashville again in 1997, where he impressed with a .275/~.367/.534 line and 26 home runs, though his 29 errors led the American Association. His hitting got him 18 more games at the big league level, where he hit .265/.306/.441 with 2 doubles and 2 triples.
1998 and 1999 were spent entirely at the big league level. He played mostly first base in 1998 (Thomas had moved to DH), sharing the spot with Wil Cordero, and he was at third base in 1999 as Ventura moved to the New York Mets. Norton posted a .237/.301/.398 line with 9 homers in 1998, and .255/.358/.424, with 26 doubles and 16 homers in 1999.
The White Sox were ready to explode in 2000, as young players such as Magglio Ordonez, Paul Konerko, and Carlos Lee joined veteran Frank Thomas in the lineup to produce a division-winning team. Norton played third base and first base, posting a .244/.333/.373 line, but suffered an injury, and the White Sox brought in Herb Perry to play third. Norton appeared in 29 games with the Charlotte Knights in Triple A that year, posting a line of .289/.435/.485.
A free agent after 2000, he signed with the Colorado Rockies, and spent two years with them. In 2001, he hit .267 and slugged .516 in the friendly Colorado park. Norton played mostly third base, left field, and first base, as Jeff Cirillo was the regular third baseman. In 2002, he appeared in 113 games, getting only 168 at-bats and hitting .220. In 2003, he appeared in 114 games with 179 at-bats, hitting .263 with 15 doubles.
He signed as a free agent with the Detroit Tigers for the 2004 season, but hit only .174/.276/.256 in 41 games. Back in the minors with the Toledo Mud Hens for 53 games, he posted a weak line of .207/.297/.315. The Rockies signed him as a free agent after the 2004 season, but he ended up with the White Sox again in 2005, at their minor league team in Charlotte, where he resurrected his career with a line of .285/.374/.503 as a first baseman.
In 2006, he was with the Durham Bulls in Triple A for 3 games, but was at the major league level with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays for most of the season. He had a strong season, hitting .296 and slugging .520. Even though he appeared in only 98 games, he set a career high with 17 home runs. He was on the disabled list early in 2007 for Tampa Bay, and played his first game on May 18th. He failed to repeat the previous year's success, hitting .243 with only 4 homers.
Norton is the son of minor league outfielder Jerry Norton.
Year-By-Year Minor League Managerial Record
|2010||New Orleans Zephyrs||Pacific Coast League||33-40||12th||Florida Marlins||replaced Edwin Rodriguez on June 23|
|2011||New Orleans Zephyrs||Pacific Coast League||69-74||10th||Florida Marlins|