Barrington baseball community mourns Noreen's passing

  • Keith Noreen, a member of Kirby Smith's 1986 Barrington state champion baseball team, who went on to a great career at Iowa, died Dec. 19 in Florida at 52 from a blood clot in his brain.

    Keith Noreen, a member of Kirby Smith's 1986 Barrington state champion baseball team, who went on to a great career at Iowa, died Dec. 19 in Florida at 52 from a blood clot in his brain. COURTESY OF THE UNIVERSITY OF IOWA

  • Keith Noreen, who played at the University of Iowa after a stellar career at Barrington High School, died Dec. 19. He was 52.

    Keith Noreen, who played at the University of Iowa after a stellar career at Barrington High School, died Dec. 19. He was 52. COURTESY OF THE UNIVERSITY OF IOWA

  • Keith Noreen at the University of Iowa.

    Keith Noreen at the University of Iowa. COURTESY OF THE UNIVERSITY OF IOWA

  • Keith Noreen, in an undated photo from the University of Iowa, died earlier this month. The Barrington High School graduate was 52.

    Keith Noreen, in an undated photo from the University of Iowa, died earlier this month. The Barrington High School graduate was 52. COURTESY OF THE UNIVERSITY OF IOWA

 
By Dick Quagliano
Daily Herald correspondent
Updated 12/30/2020 2:26 PM

Barrington's Keith Noreen had a way of bringing his teammates together in both life and death.

Noreen, who helped lead the Broncos to their only state baseball title in 1986, passed away Dec. 19 due to complications from a blood clot to the brain, which led to a stroke. He was 52.

 

"He brought the guys back together again," former Barrington pitching coach Dave Engle said. "They all have been sharing emails and stories. They all realize that they should have stayed in touch more. Kind of nice to see that, even if it is for the wrong reason."

Noreen was a star player on the mound, at the plate and in the field. Noreen hit .451 in 1986 with 12 home runs and 37 RBI. He was 7-0 on the mound with 48 strikeouts and an ERA of 0.93.

Noreen, along with Dan Wilson, who went on to play with the Seattle Mariners and other MLB teams, were two of the main catalysts in 1986 as the Broncos went 33-5. Barrington rolled to the state title that year by blasting Chicago Fenger 12-2 in 5 innings with Noreen named MVP of the tournament.

Noreen was a three-year starter for legendary Barrington head baseball coach Kirby Smith.

Noreen batted .440 during that span with an on-base percentage of .518, a slugging percentage of .868 while compiling a 2.01 ERA.

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He was an outstanding player," Smith said. "His demeanor was so low key, that you sometimes didn't realize what he was contributing. But his stats were extra special. But he didn't get the recognition he should have received. He got less recognition because that team was getting more. His recognition came because he was well-liked by the team and the community."

An outstanding hitter, Noreen was also a terrific pitcher. In what many believe was one of the best outings by a Barrington pitcher, Noreen once threw just 63 pitches in 7 innings to pick up a 1986 win.

"He had several games like that," Smith said. "He was a fine hitter, but one of the best pitchers in the state. His performance was of leadership caliber. Noreen made many comments by the way he performed."

Noreen's career took off even further when he played at the University of Iowa. He played for the Hawkeyes for four years, and is the only University of Iowa player ever to receive all-Big Ten honors in three of those seasons.

Noreen played one season of pro ball for the Sumter Braves in the South Atlantic League before retiring from the game.

He is survived by his mother, Barbara Noreen; and brothers Kevin, Kenneth, Kristopher and Kipp. The family has asked that donations be made to the University of Iowa Stead Family Hospital in Keith's name.

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