Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame Profile: Norman Baker
2015 marks the Year of Sport and the 60th anniversary of Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame. In recognition of these important milestones, OLM will be featuring Honoured Members of Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame in a weekly Profile piece.
Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame aims to share the stories and achievements of its Honoured Members to inspire Canadians in all aspects of life.
Norman Baker: Athlete, Basketball
Norman “The Swede” Baker was named Canada’s top basketball player of the first half of the 20th century—and for good reason. Throughout his entire life, even during times of war, he remained dedicated to the sport.
Born in Victoria, British Columbia in 1923, Baker began playing basketball for the Nanaimo Mosquitoes at age 10. Six years later, Baker was picked up by the Victoria Dominoes, making him the youngest member to play for a Canadian Championship team. He went on to win two more national titles with the Dominoes.
In late 1942, Baker enlisted in the Royal Canadian Air Force. While serving he was a member of the national champion team, the Pat Bay Gremlins. In one game against the Windsor Patricks, he scored 38 points which was a record at the time.
After leaving the RCAF, Baker was able to begin his professional career in basketball, playing for the Chicago Stags and the Vancouver Hornets. While a Hornet, he was the lead scorer in the league with an outstanding 1,962 points in 70 games.
During the basketball off-season, Baker played lacrosse with the New Westminster Adanacs. He was part of the effort that won the team the Mann Cup national championship in October 1947.
For two years in the 1950s, Baker was part of the New York Celtics, Stars of America and Boston Whirlwinds. With them he played against the Harlem Globetrotters while travelling throughout Europe and Africa. Founder of the Harlem Globetrotters, Abe Saperstein, described as “one of the greatest natural basketball players I have ever seen.”
After his professional sporting career ended, Baker worked as a police officer. In his spare time he continued to show love for his sports by coaching lacrosse and basketball. Baker died as a respectable Canadian athlete at age 66 in Victoria.
To learn more about Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame, visit sportshall.ca.