In Memory of Norm Larker

Larker recalled as Dodger, family man
1st baseman played on team that won '59 World Series.

The Long Beach Press Telegram
March 18, 2007

(c) Houston Astros

Whether Norman Howard Larker was playing first base for the Dodgers, basketball with his four sons or just fishing, he wanted to win.

"He wasn't the most talented player, but he worked real hard," said his oldest son, Norman Duane Larker, who goes by Duane.

Larker's hard work paid off in 1960 when he was voted to the National League All-Star team.

"He was known as a good hitter," Duane said.

When Larker was diagnosed with cancer in 2002, he fought it aggressively and managed to subdue it for several years.

The cancer reappeared in late 2006, however, and Larker died on March 12 at Long Beach Memorial Medical Center.

He was 76.

Larker was born on Dec. 27, 1930, in Beaver Meadows, Pa.

While playing minor league baseball in the South, Larker met his wife through friends.

"I didn't know people got paid for (playing baseball)," Louise said.

The couple married Sept. 4, 1954, in Mobile, Ala. They moved to Long Beach when Larker broke into the major leagues with the Dodgers on April 15, 1958.

Larker was mainly an outfielder his first year, but he played first base for the rest of his career.

Larker helped the Dodgers win the World Series at the Los Angeles Coliseum in 1959, batting in the cleanup position.

He finished second in National League batting race in 1960 with an average of .323.

Larker also went on to play for the Houston Colt .45s (now known as the Astros), the Milwaukee Braves, the San Francisco Giants and the Toei Flyers in Japan.

However, Larker was "a Dodger through and through," Duane said.

"If you were in the Dodger organization, everything was first-class," Duane said.

As a local legend, Larker was always surrounded by men who wanted to listen to his stories at weddings and other gatherings.

"He was the worst joke teller, but when it came to baseball stories, he was great," Duane said.

Larker never let his fame as a baseball player get to his head.

"He didn't expect anything other than what the average Joe got," Duane said, adding, "He was a modest guy."

Larker enjoyed hunting and fly fishing with his family, occasionally taking trips to the Madison River in Montana.

"He seemed most relaxed on the rivers," Duane said.

After retirement, Larker loved to barbecue ribs for birthday parties and block parties and act as the neighborhood photographer.

"He always made sure his camera was always going, like he was recording history," Louise said.

Although Larker became famous as a baseball player, his family said they will always remember him for his role as a family man.

"He always looked after us," Louise said.

In addition to Louise and Duane, Larker is survived by sons Lewis Wayne, Damian Blaine and Collin Shane, eight grandchildren and his brother Lewis.