The Post-Journal

Noren Born Here, Arose Quickly to Major Leagues; Now With Yankees

Irving Arnold Noren talked little of baseball and much about basketball when he was a youngster living in Jamestown, but many observers felt the husky left-hander had the natural stance and grace that would fit in better with a diamond career than on the cage courts.

Irv was born in Jamestown on November 29, 1924, and was 12 years old when his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Perry Noren, operators of the Newland Avenue bakery here, moved to California, finally settling in Pasadena, where the senior Noren still follows his chosen profession.

Basketball beckoned during the years Irv attended school and he eventually developed into one of the coast's finest young cagers. He served with the Chicago Gears for a time and was also very proficient as a table tennis player during his military service stretch at Fort Ord.

Eventually he was induced to sign a baseball contract and reported to Santa Barbara of the California League in 1946 where he virtually set the circuit on fire. Irv led the league in hits with 188, doubles with 33, triples with 14 and runs batted in with 129 while hitting .363.

Such performance warranted a rapid move upward and in 1947 he reported to Ft. Worth of the Texas League where he appeared in 149 games in '47 and 135 in '48.

Irv hit .271 and .323 during his two-year tenure with the Double A Cats and the following spring found him in Triple A ball with Hollywood of the Pacific Coast League where he became the subject of the year's biggest baseball deal when Brooklyn sold him to Washington. It was reported the Dodgers received $80,000 from the Nats for the personable, young, ex-Jamestowner.

Noren served with Washington through 1950, 1951, and part of 1952 after hitting .330 for Hollywood.

At Washington, Manager Bucky Harris converted him from the outfield to first base where he appeared in 138 games in 1950 hitting .295. He was sent back to the outer patrol in 1951, batting .279 in 129 contests.

It is no secret that Noren was not completely satisfied at Washington so it is likely the Jamestown born slugger was elated when Washington dealt him to New York on May 3, 1952. He and Tom Upton went to the Yanks for outfielders Jackie Jensen and Archie Wilson, pitcher Frank Shea and infielder Jerry Snyder.

The deal, of course, put Noren in the World Series where he played the outfield in three games and pinch hit in one against the Dodgers, compiling a .300 average in the autumn classic - three hits in 10 at bats.

Irv is 6-feet, weighs 190 and bats and throws left.

Casey Stengal was high on Noren when the Washington deal was completed and the grizzled old pilot told newsmen just recently that he has no reason to change his mind. "This fellow is big, smart and has all of the potential," Old Case remarked. "You'll see a lot of him in 1953."

And Irv, who married the former Jeannette Swanson, a California girl and now has two children, appears to be set with the Yanks. Talking to his uncle, Elmer A. Johnson, of 41 Fluvanna Avenue, by phone during the Yanks' recent trip to Cleveland, Irv said his only complaint earlier was a lack of action. "But I am getting in there quite a bit now and everything is fine," he told Mr. Johnson.

Noren, through last Sunday, had appeared in 23 games for the Yanks and was hitting .260. He's hitting the long ball as his 4 doubles, 3 triples, 5 homers and 19 runs batted in will attest.

While serving with the Yanks lends stature to a ball player in these days when the Bombers are traveling the glory road at an unprecedented pace, it is, nevertheless, unfortunate for Noren that Stengal's outfield is so solid with Mickey Mantle and Hank Bauer set, leaving Noren, Gene Woodling, and Bill Renna, the clouting Italian and a fellow Californian who hails from Hanford, to scrap over the remaining garden spot.

"Just the same," Stengal says nodding his head sagely, "we will be working Noren a lot more from here on out. He's my boy of the future."

Young Noren's parents were living on West 13th Street when he was born and were residing on Linwood Avenue when they departed for the coast.

One of the biggest misconceptions about Irv is that he once played in the PONY League. He has had no connection with the local circuit other than to watch a few games at Municipal Stadium during periodic visits to Jamestown.

But residents of Jamestown claim Irv Noren as their own and their appreciation of the strapping outfielder, who once lived here, will likely be shown when balloting starts for the city's first Hall of Fame - its first chance to enshrine its native sons who have gone forth to bring acclaim to Jamestown.

Balloting for the Hall of Fame, sponsored by the Retail Merchants Association of the Chamber of Commerce, will start July 1. Hall of Fame Night will be held July 22. A total of six men have been nominated for the inaugural year, with two to be selected, one from the so-called old-timers era and one a modern-day athlete. Old-timers to be voted on are Ray Caldwell, Hugh Bedient and Swat Erickson. Modern athletes are Noren, Nellie Fox and Sal Maglie.

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.