Minnesota Twins fan interview: Craig Nordquist of MLB Network

MIAMI, FL - AUGUST 20: Stacy Stewart, Senior Hurricane Specialist at the National Hurricane Center, tracks Hurricane Danny on computer screens as it becomes the first of the 2015 Atlantic hurricane season on August 20, 2015 in Miami, Florida. The storm is too far away from land to know where it may hit, but tracking suggests it could reach the Lesser Antilles and Puerto Rico early next week. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
MIAMI, FL - AUGUST 20: Stacy Stewart, Senior Hurricane Specialist at the National Hurricane Center, tracks Hurricane Danny on computer screens as it becomes the first of the 2015 Atlantic hurricane season on August 20, 2015 in Miami, Florida. The storm is too far away from land to know where it may hit, but tracking suggests it could reach the Lesser Antilles and Puerto Rico early next week. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images) /

At Puckett’s Pond, we want to interview Minnesota Twins fans that have unique and interesting jobs in the game of baseball, whether that’s in the media around the game or in the game itself. Today, we have the opportunity to talk with MLB Network researcher Craig Nordquist.

The Minnesota Twins are coming near a playoff appearance in 2017, and Twins fans in the media world and around baseball are starting to come out in force to support the team. We at Puckett’s Pond want to highlight those Minnesota Twins fans that you may be reading or watching when you read about baseball or watch the game. Today’s interview is with Craig Nordquist, a researcher for MLB Network, and a lifelong Twins fan…

Puckett’s Pond: First and foremost, thank you so much for the time to do this! Could you please give Puckett’s Pond readers a bit of idea what it is you do with MLB Network currently in your role there?

Craig Nordquist: I’m currently in my sixth season as a researcher at MLB Network, which is located in Secaucus, NJ. Our research department has two primary functions: we provide info and we fact-check info. If you see a full-screen graphic listing Twins that have hit for the cycle, it was a researcher who provided and/or confirmed the list. If you hear one of our hosts declare that Byron Buxton just became the eighth Twin to hit three homers in a single game, it was a researcher who fed him/her that info. It’s our job to oversee the factual integrity of our programming, which means ensuring that our producers and on-air talent are presenting accurate and meaningful information.

Our researchers write full page previews with stats, injury updates, and notable storylines for each game every day. Those previews are then compiled into a research packet and sent out to a distribution list of several hundred people. I then turn my focus to whichever show I’m assigned to that day, and work with the on-air talent to ensure that they have all of the numbers and show-specific info that they need prior to going on air (and feed additional info in their ear during the broadcast).

Certainly readers on the site will be interested in your background with the Twins. Can you give a brief background how you got to your current position? I know your Twitter bio mentions Fox 9 of the Twin Cities, the Twins, and the Hall of Fame as well as MLB Network. Were all those positions in a research role, or did you have a different focus along the way?

CN: I knew from a young age that I wanted to work in baseball, so I initially got my foot in the door as an usher in the Twins’ Guest Services department. While at a Twins job fair in college, I landed an internship in the sports department at FOX 9, which got me my start in TV as an assistant producer. In the summer after my junior year of college, I interned in the multimedia department at the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY. I was in charge of cutting a highlight reel for one of the exhibits and also spent plenty of hours absorbing all of the historical knowledge that I possibly could.

I was still ushering for the Twins in the months after I graduated college when I received an email from the team about a game show that MLB Network was putting on—a trivia contest with one employee represented per team. I won the right to represent the Twins, and shortly after appearing on “Baseball IQ,” I was offered a researcher position with the network.

Obviously anyone following your Twitter timeline would see plenty of Twins-related retweets. Is keeping a team fandom difficult with a role in a national baseball media organization like MLB Network?

CN: I find it fairly easy to maintain a balance in this work environment, because everyone here at the network is able to bond over their love of the game. Sure, I travel to see the Twins play on the east coast and have a couple of Twins bobbleheads on my desk at work, but I’m able to put aside my fandom when I clock in at work so that I can cover all 30 teams in a fair, objective, and professional manner.

You’re able to be around MLB Network and hear some of the talk “around the office”. What has been the word on the Twins this year as the season has continued with the Twins in playoff contention?

CN: I would say that the main theme of Twins discussions at the network this year has been ‘surprise.’ The Twins have been getting much more air time this season than in the past few years, and as such, there have been more requests for background info on what makes them click. Everyone wants to know more about Byron Buxton these days. I’ve also heard more than one of our analysts call the Twins “the surprise of the season,” and the general consensus around the network seems to be that they have a very bright future.

Having worked with the previous front office, what have your opinions been so far of Falvey/Levine?

CN: I was in a guest services role with the Twins, so my interactions with the front office came solely in the form of running into Terry Ryan occasionally at Twinsfest. Based on what I’ve seen from Falvine so far, I’m optimistic for the future of the organization. They seem to have given the front office a more data-driven approach, and I’m confident that we’ll begin learning more about their long-term approach as they settle into their second year at the helm.

Any advice for a fellow Twins fan who would have thoughts/dreams of pursuing a similar path in the game as you’ve carved out for yourself?

CN: The baseball industry is a wonderful fraternity, but it can be a tough one to crack. Getting experience and networking early on can be game-changers, and I highly recommend looking for any internships that align with your interests. You’ll work long hours and face difficult tasks, but if the thrill of working in sports is still there after that, you’ll know you’re in the right place. I worked in the Sports Information department at my alma mater (Gustavus Adolphus College), and highly recommend that anyone interested in a stats-based job in the sporting world consider doing so as well.

Your fan time – favorite Twins player, favorite Twins moment, how you became a Twins fan?

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CN: I spent the first 23 years of my life growing up in the suburbs of Minneapolis in a baseball-loving family, so it was somewhat predetermined that I’d be a Twins fan. I watched a 1991 World Series highlight video tape when I was in kindergarten, and had it memorized within a week. My love for the game grew over the years, and I convinced my parents to get a 16-game plan in 2001. Those Turnaround Twins teams won me over with their underdog nature and scrappy play.

My favorite moment was without a doubt being in the stands for Game 163 in 2009…easily the greatest game that I’ve ever attended. As for favorite player, that’s a tough one. Kirby Puckett was naturally the first ballplayer I gravitated to, but Torii, Johan, Mauer, Morneau and so many others (Lew Ford!) from that era made Twins baseball so much fun to watch in my teenage years. If I had to choose just one, I’d go with Doug Mientkiewicz. I was a first baseman in little league and I tried to model my game after his…high socks, bubble gum, and all.

Next: Twins fans respond to minor moves

I would like to thank Craig for his willingness to chat with us here at Puckett’s Pond and taking the time out of his extremely busy schedule to talk about the Twins and his journey in the game. What an incredible experience to get all the different angles of the game that he’s been able to experience!

If you do have any other Twins fans that you know in media outlets or working for teams around the league (or even in baseball overseas!), feel free to let us know in the comments or let us know via the Puckett’s Pond Twitter account!