Novato's David and Suzi Norris had no idea that their son Bud would become a major leaguer during his tee ball days, but they did start realizing how tenacious of a competitor he was.
"One of the (tee-ball) moms came up to me and told me how competitive Bud was," Suzi said. "He's just that kid who loves to play and win. His competitive nature has been bred into him. You take that competitive edge out of him ... he's not the same person."
Norris, whose real name is David Jr., has continued that intensity from his days as a Little Leaguer to an all-leaguer at San Marin High to Cal Poly and now as a starting pitcher for the Baltimore Orioles.
The 220-pound right-hander is 8-7 with a 3.94 ERA for the AL East-leading Orioles and working on his first full season with the team after being traded by the Houston Astros at last July's trade deadline.
"It was my love and passion for the game. ... They didn't force me to do it," said Norris, 29, who picked up his first win since June 21 on Monday night against the Angels. "They encouraged me and have been there every step of the way and encouraged me through the entire process."
His teammates were also likely encouraged to see Norris on the mound again. He went 6 2/3 innings, allowing two runs (one earned) and struck out eight in his first start since returning from the disabled list for a right groin strain.
Norris' return couldn't have come against a better foe.
In four previous starts against Los Angeles, Norris is 3-0 with a 0.32 ERA. He hadn't allowed an earned run in 13 innings during two career starts at Angel Stadium, winning both.
On Saturday, Norris allowed four earned runs in five innings to take the loss in the Orioles' 4-3 defeat against Seattle.
Baltimore Orioles starting pitcher Bud Norris throws against the Los Angeles Angels during the first inning of his win last Monday.
"I've had some bad starts, but a good first half," said Norris, who is in his sixth season in the majors. "I've been able to help the team a lot. We haven't played our best baseball yet, which is cool since we are in first place. We've got a fun 3-4 months ahead."
His parents have seen plenty of his good baseball games over the years including his major-league debut in relief against the Cubs at Wrigley Field on July 29, 2009 and his first start four days later. When they learned he would start against the Cardinals, the family changed their itinerary and flew to St. Louis. They witnessed a gem in Norris outdueling Adam Wainwright in a 2-0 Astros' victory. Norris allowed two hits in seven innings and had a no-hitter through the first five.
"We knew that he had the baseball talent above his peers when he was 10," David said. "He understood the game. He was better than most of the other players. Obviously in high school he was one of the better players, he was a third baseman who happened to pitch on Fridays."
His dad still remembers the game Norris threw against San Marin's cross-town rivals. Norris tossed a no-hitter against Novato the same day that the school's softball team no-hit the Hornets.
David admits to missing the first inning of Bud's no-hitter coming back from his financial advisor job in San Francisco, but says he was there for all of them.
"Didn't want to miss those," he said.
In his office at work, David has his son's Astros and Orioles jerseys hanging from his wall along with signed ones from Mariano Rivera, Derek Jeter and Albert Pujols that Norris gave to him.
Despite the notoriety and big paychecks that often come from being a major leaguer, Norris stays grounded.
"I am extremely proud of Bud, not just as a baseball player but as a young man," David said.
"He's got a good head on his shoulders."
Said Suzi: "Bud is pretty much the same guy he was in high school. He really is fortunate. He doesn't take that for granted. He still has the same friends he did in high school."
Norris also recently became an uncle and saw his nephew Dylen -- born on June 25 -- for the first time when he made an unexpected visit to Novato last weekend.
His sister Stefani was visiting from Sacramento.
"It's been his dream (to play in the majors) since he was a little kid," said Stefani, who works as an X-ray tech.
"I remember him saying he would be a major leaguer some day.
"It's an exciting journey. It's nice to be along for the ride."
The Norris family is hoping that the ride includes a trip to the postseason in October.
"(If that happens) we will be jumping on an airplane for Baltimore for the playoffs," John said.
"We are very excited about that."