New South Wales Patriots

pay tribute to

NORMAN ' NORRIE ' CLAXTON
 

Each year the elite players of Australian Baseball gather for the National Championships - there to contest The Claxton Shield.   Little, however, is known of its origins and of the dedicated, colourful, sports-loving gentleman who gave his name to it

 
     
 

The Shield

 

NSW Patriots | Craig Lewis holds the Claxton Shield - 29 January 2005

NSW Patriots Infielder Craig Lewis holds the Claxton Shield

29 January 2005

     
 

The Team

 
NSW Patriots | National Champions and Winner of The Claxton Shield 2005

New South Wales Patriots with the Claxton Shield 29 January 2005

 

National Champions

 - 2005 -

 

photos by Pat Milmlow

     

The Man

NSW Patriots | Norman 'Norrie' Claxton - after whom the Claxton Shield was named

Norman A 'Norrie' Claxton

 

NORMAN A "NORRIE" CLAXTON was a tall man with a quiet, almost inaudible voice, possessing an engaging smile and renown for the ever present red carnations that adorned his lapel.
One of the greatest sports philanthropists Australia has ever known, Claxton also left his mark as a champion in no less than six sports Australian Rules Football, Cricket, Baseball, Cycling, Athletics, and Hockey all by the time he was 30 years of age.
In three of these sports Cricket, Baseball, and Football he represented his home state with distinction. Yet Norrie Claxton will be remembered much more for his contribution to sport off the field than for his undoubted achievements within the sporting arena.
An astute and highly successful businessman, Norrie Claxton derived tremendous satisfaction from his financial backing of sport and devoted much of his life to administrative roles in cricket, baseball, and cycling.
Former Australian and Claxton Shield captain, Ken Gulliver, recalling his first meeting Norrie Claxton during the fourth Claxton Shield series at Adelaide's Unley Oval said that he....


" marvelled at the man's totally unassuming nature. Norrie's soft voice forced his listeners to edge closer to catch his words, and therein lay the secret to the man's ability to capture an audience.
"


In cricket, Norrie Claxton attained international representative status as a member of the South Australian team playing the touring English teams of 1901-1902, 1903, and 1907.
But Norrie would save his best for those occasions South Australia played their arch rivals, Victoria.
Norrie Claxton's highest first class score of 199 not out, was against Victoria in a 1906 Sheffield Shield match and, by coincidence, his best bowling effort was also against Victoria when, in 1904, he snared 5-130 with his clever medium-paced deliveries.
After he finished playing cricket, Norrie Claxton, a confirmed bachelor, turned his attention to administration - serving as a selector, manager and member of the SACA executive for 20 years.
At the age of 23 Norrie Claxton burst into prominence as a sprinter when he won the Bay Sheffield 100 Yard Sprint at Glenelg in 1900, repeating the effort at Bendigo (Victoria) the following year.
As a cyclist, Claxton was equally brilliant specialising in sprint events where his long, lithe frame squeezed every ounce of speed out of his bicycle. He was 40 years of age when the North Adelaide Cycle Club elected him captain a position he held until his death in 1951 at the age of 74 years.
Although the archives do not provide us much detail on Norrie Claxton's playing career in football, baseball, and hockey his prowess in those sports was well known among the older generation of sporting identities in South Australia.
He played baseball for the North Adelaide club in 1911 and 1912 and represented South Australia during that same period. He was the founding President of the South Australian Baseball League, holding the position for a record 17 consecutive years, and was Patron for a further 21 years.
It was one of Norrie's dreams that there would be an national Baseball championship involving all Australian states, and was very proud to witness the inaugural (1934) Claxton Shield named in his honour.
Norrie was doubly proud when his South Australian team won the inaugural Shield competition and went on to complete the hat-trick with wins in 1935 and 1936.
The Final of the 1935 series between South Australia and Victoria was one of the most memorable in the history of Shield competition.
The game was played at the Melbourne Cricket Ground and was the second of a double-header at the famous arena.
It turned out to be one of the longest games of baseball in Claxton Shield history and went a marathon 15 innings before play was halted in near total darkness with neither team scoring a single run.
Incredibly, both pitchers, South Australia's Ron Sharpe and Victoria's Mick Carr went the whole game and the 112 batters that they faced, without one crossing the plate, is an Australian record unlikely to be beaten.
While the scoreless draw clinched the series for South Australia, a perusal of the figures of the three competing teams only emphasises the closeness of the competition.
South Australia's team batting percentage was .197 and their fielding .957. New South Wales figures were .176 and .924 and Victoria's .140 and .922. These figures suggest the pitching and fielding for all teams was of an exceptionally high standard - certainly for the 1930s.
Victoria and South Australia have dominated the Claxton Shield recording 16 and 15 wins respectively. New South Wales follows with 11 wins, and West Australia 6.
Queensland, who were admitted to the competition in 1939 finally broke their drought with back-to-back title wins in 1982 and 1983 which, after adding victories in 1987 and 2003, brought their total to 4. Northern Territory and ACT are yet to record a win.
New South Wales is the only state to have won the coveted trophy four times in succession having triumphed in 1937, 1938, 1939 and the first series after World War II in 1946.
Were it possible, Norman A ("Norrie") Claxton would stand even taller than his 1.88m if he were alive today and could see the outstanding success that is Claxton Shield Baseball - the National Championships a lasting monument to a truly great Australian who simply loved sport, and baseball in particular.

(extracted, with amendment made in respect of dates, from the 1986 Claxton Shield Tournament Program author unknown)

 
     
 

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