Obituary: Irv Noren

Irv Noren
Irv Noren

Irv Noren, a Pasadena native who won five World Series rings, three with the storied New York Yankee teams of the 1950s, died earlier this month at his home in San Diego. He was 94.
Noren’s family moved to Pasadena during the 1930s. They founded Noren’s Hillcrest Swedish Bakery in Altadena. Noren became an outstanding baseball and basketball player, starring at Pasadena Junior College (now Pasadena City College) before serving in the Army and signing a professional baseball contract with the Brooklyn Dodgers.
Although he starred in the minor leagues, winning most valuable player awards in both the Texas League and the Pacific Coast League, Noren never made the talent-rich Brooklyn lineup. So the Dodgers traded him to the Washington Senators, where Noren made his major league debut in 1950. He had two strong seasons in Washington and then was acquired by the Yankees, where he played alongside Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra and Whitey Ford. Noren won three World Series in New York. He was an All-Star in 1954, when he hit .319 to finish third in the American League batting race. He played in four World Series, retiring in 1960 after stints with the St. Louis Cardinals, Chicago Cubs and Los Angeles Dodgers. He won two more World Series titles as a coach, in 1972 and 1973, with the Oakland Athletics.
While he made a name for himself playing baseball, Noren was also an outstanding basketball player. He played one season, 1946, with the Los Angeles Red Devils, the integrated pro basketball team that featured Noren’s friend and fellow Pasadena native Jackie Robinson. One year later, on April 15, 1947, Robinson would break baseball’s color barrier. Noren also played for the Chicago American Gears of the National Basketball League, a team that featured future Lakers great George Mikan.
In 1961, Noren and Robinson were inducted into the inaugural class of Pasadena City College’s Hall of Fame. They are also honored in PCC’s Court of Champions.
Following his retirement from baseball, Noren owned several businesses in the Pasadena area, including Irv Noren’s Lanes, a bowling alley in Hastings Ranch that still stands. He bred and raced horses at the Santa Anita racetrack and raised four children in Arcadia. Later, he moved to San Diego and traded Santa Anita for Del Mar.
Memorial services were held Tuesday, Nov. 26, in San Diego. Noren is survived by four children; a sister, Janet Johnson; 13 grandchildren; and 14 great-grandchildren (who sang “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” at the memorial service).

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