1951, 1955-1957

Norm Zauchin was born on November 17, 1929, in Royal Oak, Michigan. He had basketball scholarships offered to him and even had some hockey scholarships but had first set his sights on professional basketball as a career, until the Detroit Falcons franchise folded after one season, 1946-47.

When he graduated from Royal Oak High School, he had agreed to terms to play baseball for  the Detroit Tigers, but after waiting in vain for three days, he phoned the Boston Red Sox and signed with them instead. He was assigned to the Milford Red Sox, a Class D (Eastern Shore League) team and performed extremely well, earning the league’s most valuable player.

The next year, 1949, he was jumped from Class D all the way to Triple-A, and the Louisville Colonels decided to make him a catcher. Norm knew he’d have a better chance to move up, if he could prove successful behind the plate. They worked closely with him for five weeks during Colonels spring training in Bradenton, Florida.

He played a total of two regular-season games as Louisville’s catcher, and then was optioned to Scranton, Pennsylvania, early in May. He appeared in four games for Scranton, the Red Sox' Single-A Eastern League team, and within a month was sent further back down to the ladder, to Class C with the San Jose (California) Red Sox. He also moved back to first base and never caught again in organized baseball. 

In 1950, he was assigned to the Birmingham Barons of the Double-A Southern Association. He hit 35 homers that surpassed the Southern Association single-season mark of 29.

In 1951, Norm stuck with Louisville, and was headed for a third year, knocking in 100 or more runs, when he sprained his ankle in August. In September, the Sox called up Norm and five other prospect.  Norm had his major-league debut in September against the Yankees. A week later, he was 2-for-7 in a doubleheader, the only hits he’d get in major-league ball for more than three years.

Norm was inducted into the United States Army in 1952. He was assigned to Camp Gordon, Georgia, and promptly joined the base’s baseball team. He remained in the Army throughout 1953, and was discharged in February 1954, just in time to report for spring training. 

The competition at first base looked to be among incumbent Dick Gernert, Norm and  Harry Agganis. As a returning veteran, Norm had the right to stay on the big-league roster for the full 1954 season, but he requested that he be sent to Louisville instead, where he’d have a chance to play. He prospered again for the Colonels despite two years out of organized ball.

In 1955, neither Agganis nor Norm impressed in spring training, and manager Mike Higgins thought about platooning them. Unfortunately Norm went 0-for-12 in the first three games of the season, with five strikeouts, and that landed him on the bench. For a week in early May, Agganis was getting most of the starts,but after a May doubleheader, he became ill and couldn’t play. 

Norm's bat exploded, hammering out three home runs and a bases-loaded double, driving in 10 runs, in a May game against the visiting Washington Senators. He hit four more homers over the next nine games and drove in nine runs

Harry Agganis came back and started two games in June, and then never played baseball again. He had to be re-hospitalized with pneumonia and then, shockingly died on June 27th. Norm played first base in almost every game the rest of the year and was named after the season as the rookie All-Star first baseman. 

Norm did not see much duty in 1956. Despite his 27-homer season, the Red Sox had acquired two-time batting champion Mickey Vernon in November.

In 1957, there was some three-way sharing going on with Mickey Vernon, Dick Gernert and Norm. Unfortunately, Norm suffered a fractured left wrist in August, sliding into second base during a game in Detroit, and was out for the season. 

In January 1958, the Red Sox sent Norm to the Washington Senators for Pete Runnels.  Norm was happy with the trade, and grateful for the chance to play regularly. He hit well in the early going, in 1958, batting over .300 through mid-May. Then, while hitting .283, he hurt his shoulder diving for a grounder in Cleveland and appeared in only two games over the next three weeks. He got back in the lineup, hitting consistently but with a slowly eroding average. 

Norm apparently took a bit of a pay cut in 1959 and was not hitting at all, batting just .211 after appearing in 19 games. In May, he was sold to the Miami Marlins, the Triple-A International League affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles. His major-league years were over. The 27 homers he’d hit in 1954 were more than half of his career total of 50. 

In Miami, Norm hurt this throwing arm and needed a couple of cortisone shots, but they did not help. In July, he was placed on the disabled list due to strained ligaments. He came back later in the season, but didn’t play much. 

In 1960, he played most of the season with Miami again, but was sold to the Buffalo (New York) Bisons (also in the International League). He was still young, but the shoulder still hindered his ability to swing the bat as he needed to, so he realized it was time to hang ’em up.

In early 1962, Norm worked in Florida at a winter baseball instruction camp. He’d sold insurance during off-seasons, but primarily he became involved with bowling. He belonged to the Professional Bowlers Association and bowled competitively for a long time. For many years, he worked as the manager of the local lanes, Holiday Bowl in Bessemer. An avid golfer also, he won his club championship and played in a lot of tournaments with retired baseball players. 

Norm Zauchin had prostate cancer, from which he died, at age 69, on January 31, 1999, in Birmingham, Alabama.