BHS Baseball: Mather, Martin, Stoner and Dr. Joe Norris

BHS Baseball: Mather, Martin, Stoner and Dr. Joe NorrisBruce Auld, a former Sierra Sands Unified School District Superintendent, is writing the history of Burroughs High School. The articles that are being published are excerpts from his upcoming book, exclusive to The News Review.

Although the Burros have yet to win a state title, the baseball program has advanced many players to the college and professional levels. The John Martin family is a local baseball dynasty. Their family story is the subject of the next article, briefly mentioned herein. John’s son, Kevin, played college ball and professionally in the minors for the Cleveland Indians and, like his dad, has been a longtime pitching coach for local youth leagues and the Burros. John’s son and Kevin’s younger brother, John Dale (JD), pitched for the Washington Nationals, the only Burro to pitch in Major League Baseball. (Interviews with the Martin family)

In the Burroughs basketball article, I asserted that Jay Carty, the anchor of the Burroughs 1958 basketball state championship team, was the first Burro to turn pro. Jay played one season with LA Lakers in the 1968-69 season. To this writer’s knowledge, Thomas (Tommy) Mather is the first Burro to play professional baseball and apparently the first Burro to go pro in any sport, one year (1967) ahead of Jay. Mather was signed by Albe Pearson as a free agent out of Bakersfield College by the New York Yankees into the Yankees Single A minor league program as a relief pitcher. He played one season (1967) with the Johnson City, New York Yankees. Thomas, Tom, Tommy or “Big T” returned to Ridgecrest to coach both youth athletics and at Burroughs, build several successful businesses and become likely the greatest supporter of IWV athletics. Sometimes thought a little rough around the edges, yet to those who know him well, he has a heart of gold and is generous to a fault. Tommy was voted Most Athletic by the Class of 1964. (El Burro)

John Martin (BHS 1966), as with Tommy Mather, was signed by Albe Pearson as a free agent out of Bakersfield College by the New York Yankees into the Yankees Single A minor league program as a pitcher. He played one season (1968-69) with the Johnson City, New York Yankees, the Fort Lauderdale Yankees and the Idaho Falls Angels. (John Martin) More on John and his baseball family next week.

Mark Stoner, the first Burro to be drafted into professional sports directly out of high school, graduated from Burroughs in 1969. A versatile high school student, Mark was a member of the Concert Choir, Student Council, Lettermen’s Club, quarterback of the the varsity football team and received the Clyde Zills Football Award. (El Burro)

Mark tells his own story: “Tom Mather was released by the Yankees when I was a sophomore at Burroughs. He was pitching for an amateur team in West Covina and they needed a short stop. Tommy told them about me and he took me with him to West Covina and they put me in the starting line-up. I played all summer with that team, managed by Hank Robinson, a baseball legend from the cotton fields of Tennessee. Burroughs was playing in an Easter tournament in Wasco and I was approached by Rosey Gilhausen, an Anaheim Angels scout. He asked me if I wanted to play pro ball and I said yes. In the June 1969 amateur draft, the Kansas City Royals picked me. I signed a contract and was off to Winnipeg, Canada to play for the Class A Winnipeg ‘Goldeyes.” Mark was released from the Royals in 1970 and went to Bakersfield College and then to Long Beach Community College. In short order, Mark received his draft notice and enlisted the United States Marine Corps, posted stateside. Honorably discharged in 1973, Mark worked for the Department of Defense for 31 years, retiring to Las Vegas. There he coached Green Valley High School baseball for three years. Mark’s son Matthew coaches baseball for the College of Southern Nevada in Henderson, Nevada. (Mark Stoner)

Dr. Joe Norris graduated from Burroughs in 1988. During his entire high school baseball career, he was coached by Mark Stoner’s next younger brother Mike Stoner, a geologist on base specializing in ground water resources. Tommy Mather was the pitching coach. Like Tom Mather and John Martin, Joe played baseball for Bakersfield College. He was drafted by the Montreal Expos in 1989, pitching in the minors for four seasons with the Expos and three seasons in the minors with the Minnesota Twins. His final two seasons were split between the Marlins, Brewers and Reds. “Tom Mather was the most instrumental person in my baseball career. Not only was he my pitching coach and mentor, but he was with me every step of the way through the draft and signing process and my pro career. I would have never made it without him.” (Joe Norris)

When his baseball career ended in 1998, Joe attended the University of South Carolina, earning his bachelor’s degree in business, followed by a master’s degree in athletic administration. Joe began teaching and coaching at Sumpter High School in 2003. During his eighteen years at Sumpter, his baseball teams have won three state championships, eight regional championships and eight district championships. USA Today ranked the Sumpter baseball team twelfth in the Nation in 2014. Jordan Montgomery and Charlie Barnes, two of Joe’s Sumpter players, were called up to the majors, two of Joe’s proudest baseball achievements. Joe is also an assistant football coach at Sumpter. (Joe Norris)

Like Burroughs Olympian Lacey Barnes, who earned her doctorate degree in psychology from the Claremont Graduate School, Dr. Joe Norris earned just this year his doctorate in “Organizational Leadership” from the University of South Carolina.

Joe and Alice Norris have one daughter, Maggie (15). She plays varsity volleyball and basketball and also runs track. Joe Norris on Tom Mather, “I love him like a dad. He has done so many things for kids like me over the years that nobody knows about. He has a huge heart!”

Courtesy photo: John Dale (JD) Martin, pitched for the Washington Nationals, the only Burro to pitch in Major League Baseball.

Story First Published: 2021-10-08