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Minnesota Twins president reflects on his time at UND

For Dave St. Peter, the pursuit of a career he could be passionate about led him to baseball. That path led him to the Minnesota Twins. St. Peter said he never imagined his days as an intern would evolve into overseeing the construction of Target...

David St. Peter
David St. Peter, president of the Minnesota Twins and a 1989 graduate of the University of North Dakota, delivers the commencement address Friday morning at the ceremony for professional and graduate degrees at Chester Fritz Auditorium on UND's campus. Herald photo by John Stennes.

For Dave St. Peter, the pursuit of a career he could be passionate about led him to baseball.

That path led him to the Minnesota Twins.

St. Peter said he never imagined his days as an intern would evolve into overseeing the construction of Target Field or a view of the Minneapolis skyline behind fans that travel hundreds of miles to watch a baseball game.

As president of the Minnesota Twins since 2002, St. Peter's vision stretches ahead to new ways to improve the organization, but he also reflects on his time at UND, where he earned a bachelor's degree in public relations in 1989.

"There's no doubt UND contributed mightily to any success I've had in my career," St. Peter said. "There's a North Dakota work ethic that's instilled in North Dakotans, so to speak -- I certainly was blessed with that.

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"There's no doubt in my mind that work ethic is the single biggest reason I've had some success in the world of professional sports."

His Bismarck upbringing made him no stranger to UND athletics, leading to his three years working in the UND sports information office. Though he attended games as an employee rather than a fan, he still supports UND sports from afar and finds time to attend an occasional game.

"The one entity I'm most passionate about beyond the Twins is the University of North Dakota," St. Peter said.

Following a dream

It wasn't until the end of his freshman year at UND that St. Peter realized he wanted to pursue a career in sports.

Upon graduation, he received an internship with the Minnesota North Stars, and would have been happy continuing with that organization -- but it was the family-oriented culture and legacy of the Twins that led him to baseball.

St. Peter joined the Twins organization in 1990 as an intern, and worked his way up the ladder.

"It was always about trying to focus on finding a company -- finding an industry I could be passionate about -- that I would be able to take advantage perhaps of some of the talents and skills God blessed me with," St. Peter said. "But mostly, that I could be happy and I could feel really good about going to work."

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His decision to work in sports was broad, but what he said he received in return was nothing short of a humbled dream.

"Baseball certainly was my first love," St. Peter said. "So, if I was going to have to pick a sport, it would have been baseball."

His intentions were to build a career and support a family, and his responsibilities today involve many decisions and people that he said drive him to become a better manager, person, father and friend.

"I never once dreamt about being sent to a leadership post, let alone being president of a major league baseball team," St. Peter said. "But I'm humbled by that."

As with any sport, the season records may fluctuate, but St. Peter said it's important to stay even-keeled and find success in trials.

He saw the Twins win the World Series in 1991, and he's seen them at low points, too. He said the people he's met along the way have been what have made his career so enjoyable.

"What an honor and privilege to work for this organization," he said. "It's been a tremendous amount of fun. It's been challenging. It's been exciting. I've had the chance to work with some really talented, great people who I consider to be some of my best friends in the world."

Historical culture

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The Minnesota Twins organization has developed across generations of fans. St. Peter may have contributed to the move from the Metrodome to Target Field, a journey conducive to a long-term, successful organization. But he said what was present before his influences played an ever greater role.

"First and foremost, there's a brand and culture here that's existed long before I ever got here," St. Peter said.

His objectives revolve around customer service and focusing on expanding the Twins brand to another generation.

"Ultimately, the thing I feel really strongly about is just recognizing the importance of Twins baseball from a historical perspective," St. Peter said. "We find ways to always honor the history and legacy of the Minnesota Twins baseball and some of the great names -- some of the great teams.

"We think that speaks directly to our fan base in terms of evoking memories and emotion from their time -- either attending Twins games, listening to Twins games or watching Twins games -- because we know that there are so many families across the upper Midwest where Twins baseball plays an important part of their lives and that's been the case here for 55 years, and we're hoping it's going to be the case for another 55 years."

'The Twins matter to people'

As a product of North Dakota and UND, St. Peter recognizes the Twins' fan base expands far beyond the Twin Cities metro region.

"The Twins matter to people," St. Peter said. "When you're fortunate enough to see a player visit a sick child in a hospital, or when we conduct a youth baseball clinic in a community in greater Minnesota -- there's a smile that comes to people's faces."

Although he often reminds people the Twins are in the sports business, St. Peter said the entertainment factor is also present through affordable family experiences and a chance to be part of a culture and experience.

"To have a chance to orchestrate some of that -- to have a chance to be a conduit of some of that -- that's a pretty awesome responsibility, and it's a pretty cool thing I'm reminded of every single day," St. Peter said.

His time at UND was limited, but the opportunity to continue with the Minnesota Twins greatly appeals to him.

"I can't predict the future, but if I spend my entire career with the Twins -- boy, I can't imagine a better company to do that with," he said.

Erickson is a UND student and sports reporter for the Dakota Student newspaper on campus. She wrote this story to fulfill requirements for a communications class taught by Rich Aregood.

Related Topics: BASEBALL
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