by Scrubby Olson
October 16, 1953
Elly Norton Forsakes Pro Diamond For Coaching Post and Likes It
“And I like it a lot. Ellis “Elly” Norton, widely known in area athletic circles, who started in September as the physical education instructor at Willard, Love and East Jamestown elementary schools.
Young Norton, who first saw the light of day in 1925, will have a star-studded background in sports to pass on to the children that will be under his supervision.
Elly started his brilliant career as a junior at Bemus Point High School. That year he was a member of the school’s undefeated six man football squad; a regular member of the varsity basketball squad, and a pitcher on the Pointer’s diamond forces.
Undefeated In Football
Altogether during Norton’s three year stardom at Bemus Point, the Dragons went three years undefeated in football. In his PG year, Bemus Point had one of the strongest basketball quintets that the county has produced. The team split decisions with Westfield and Falconer, and in a post-season game with Jamestown, they went down in defeat.
Asked what his most memorable occasion was in sports, Elly said “I pitched two no-hit no-run games one year. One was against a strong Falconer none. I beat them, 10-0.
Brad Bishop, Falconer High School’s athletic director, praised Elly saying, “I coached him two years at Bemus Point prior to moving down to Falconer. He probably wasn’t the fastest man, but he was the brainiest. In my books he is the greatest athlete that I have ever coached.”
In Air Force
Upon ending his post graduate year at Bemus Point, Elly saw service in the United States Air Force for about 31 months. While in the Air Force in Texas. Elly had to give up athletics, more or less. “They didn’t have much of an athletic program at the base, so I just gave up temporarily,” he said.
On Armistice Day in 1945, Elly and the former Mary Lou Carlson were united in marriage. They have two boys, Randy, 4 and Donald 1.
After serving Uncle Sam, Elly came back to these parts and hooked on with Joe Nagle’s Steel Partition baseball Bombers that Elly got one of his biggest thrills and also the break that had eluded him since his graduation from high school.
In 16-Inning Game
The Bombers played the Homestead Grays in an exhibition game in 1947. Elly pitched the first seven innings until relieved by a fellow Bemus Pointer, Walt Brown. The game went 16 innings before the strong Negro combine tallied a run in the top of the 16th to win out, 4-3.
As baseball-wise Nagle puts it, “He was a good pitcher, and could cover most any position with ease when not on the mound. If he’s around and available in the spring, I’ll be out to sign him up for my Bombers.”
Signs With Yankees
A trip to Wichita, Kansas was rewarded to the Bombers for winning the Jamestown Muny AA League championship in 1947. While pitching in the National Semi-pro Baseball Congress, Elly, although losing a 5-2 decision to the winning Fort Wayne General Electric, caught the eye of Yankee Scout Jack Delp. Delp promptly signed him to a Yankee pact and he was assigned to Newark of the Ohio State League for the 1948 season.
In 1949 he went to spring training with Manchester, but was sent to Amsterdam of the Canadian-American League. While with the latter team he pondered between an education or organized ball with education winning out.
He enrolled at Syracuse University, and because of his pro status and part time job nights he had to abstain from further sports activities. After receiving his sheepskin in Physical Education, he went back in 1962, and got a master’s degree in that subject.
When asked if he was going to remain idle on the sport’s front this winter, Elly replied, “No, I expect to be kept busy officiating games as a member of the Chautauqua County Referee’s Association”.
The additional financial assistance of the community is critical to the success of the Chautauqua Sports Hall of Fame. We gratefully acknowledge these individuals and organizations for their generous support.