Winsted-Lester Prairie Journal, July 30, 2001

Kenny Norman to be inducted into baseball hall of fame

By Ryan Gueningsman

Throughout his many years of umpiring several different sports, Kenny Norman claims he has never missed a call.

Now, he is on the receiving end of a call ­ a call to be inducted into the Minnesota Amateur Baseball Hall of Fame.

Norman received a letter in the mail recently notifying him of his selection to the hall. It has been something his family has been trying hard to achieve for over three years.

"My kids worked hard to get me here," said Norman before Tuesday evening's Wildcat playoff win against New Germany. "Especially my daughter Carol, who sent letters to the board members. Chuck Warner from Brownton and another guy on the board from Hamburg all played a big part in getting me in, too."

Norman has had sports in his blood since he was born. He began playing football and baseball when he was 16 years old.

He played baseball for one year in Howard Lake, then played the next two seasons in Waverly before beginning to umpire in 1942.

During his high school years, he also was on the Lester Prairie football team.

"In 1940, we made all-state football with Lester Prairie," said Norman. "That was back with the six-man teams. I've never refereed football, though I wish I had."

Playing baseball, Norman said he has played first, second, and third base, and shortstop. He also has managed for a few years.

"My wife and sister told me all these people were saying stuff about me, so I thought, instead of playing and having people talk about me, I should umpire, get paid, and still have the people talk about me," said Norman.

Since beginning to umpire, Norman said he has logged close to 3,500 miles a year travelling to games. He has done slow-pitch and fast-pitch softball, and Babe Ruth, Micky Mantle, Legion, and amateur league baseball.

He was gone almost every night. "One thing's for sure, you gotta have a good wife to let you umpire and be gone this much ­ she really is great," he said.

This is Norman's 38th year of umpiring baseball and softball, his 29th of volleyball, and his 28th of basketball. However, he recently had hip replacement surgery, and is recovering well from that.

About umpiring again, Norman said, "My wife says no, but if my hip stays good, maybe I'll do a couple amateur baseball games. No JV ­ maybe varsity and only with two umpires instead of me being the only one. I still got a pretty good strike zone ­ people still want me to come back."

Winsted's other surviving Minnesota Amateur Baseball Hall of Fame member, Fran Kappel, said about Norman's induction: "It's always good to see somebody from the hometown get in. Kenny is someone who's played and umpired for so long. He's well deserving of it. I'm glad he was able to get in."

Winsted's third member in the hall of fame is the late Denis M. Campbell.

Others to be inducted into the hall of fame for 2001 include Vic Arlt of Hutchinson, Jim Karn of Crookston, Jay Katzenmeyer of Madison, Dave Odman of Red Wing, and Wally Quass of Chaska.

The induction banquet will be Saturday, Sept. 29 at the St. Cloud Civic Center. Watch the Journal for more details on how to obtain tickets.


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