Happy Birthday, Frank Norton!

Frank Prescott Norton appeared in one game, batted once, and struck out for the Washington Olympics in May, 1871.  Norton was born in New York on 09 June 1845 to S. S. and Violet Norton, was an amateur baseball player for a number of years, then later was a surveyor, a sports bar owner, and involved in real estate before passing away in August, 1920.  Around 1872, he married Louisa Smith but I haven’t found that they had any children.

Norton’s claim to fame, according to Nemec’s Major League Baseball Profiles (Vol 2, Page 326), is that Norton was the first pinch hitter, entering the Olympic’s opening day game because Doug Allison’s thumb was injured; the Olympics asked Boston for the approval to make the switch.  The Chicago Tribune combined two takes on the game into one article on 06 May 1871 (page 4) – and it doesn’t read as if he was a pinch hitter in the description.  The newspaper makes it sound like he was a defensive replacement owing to Allison’s spraining or splitting his thumb and left out the part about Norton batting in the seventh frame.

Based on the game description of the seventh inning, Norton would have batted in the eighth inning – Allison was already replaced. If it happened earlier, Norton would have batted more than once.

Not only did he strike out – Norton made an error in the field on his only chance, too.  Boston came back to win the game in the bottom of the ninth.


1850, 1900, 1910 US Census
North Carolina Death Certificate (Louise Norton)

“The Sporting World.”, Chicago Tribune, 06 May 1871, Page 4.

Nemec, David (Editor). Major League Baseball Profiles 1871-1900 (Vol. 2), University of Nebraska Press, 2011, Page 326.

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