Mike Herman 98, former St. Olaf baseball player and Messenger sports editor, is doing just that. He currently holds the position of manager of media and player relations for the three-time American League Central Division champion Minnesota Twins, dealing with players like Johan Santana, Torii Hunter and Joe Mauer on an everyday basis. Mike recently took some time out from his busy schedule to chat with the Mess at the Twins spring training home in Fort Myers, Fla.
Coming into college, what were some of your career aspirations?
I wanted to go into sports broadcasting. I had done internships with TV stations and in the media relations departments of sports teams. Originally, I wanted to be on TV, but that quickly faded when I realized what my financial situation would be after college. I wanted to make money right away; I didnt want to work for nothing at some small-town station. I wanted a job related to sports and somehow related to the media.
How did your St. Olaf education prepare you for your current career? What would you say are some of the advantages or disadvantages to attending a small liberal arts college (at least in your line of work)?
I think the biggest advantages of going to a school like St. Olaf is that communication in general is so important. Because its such a small school, you always have to work with different groups of peoplewhether its talking to all the different coaches as sports editor or being in class with people from all different walks of life. I had to understand and relate to everyone I came into contact with, and I think that helped me a lot in my current field.
For instance, its easy for me to sit and talk with a Japanese reporter, and, despite the language barrier, Im able to communicate with him and help him get whatever he needs. St. Olaf is a place that really promotes diversity, and I was able to meet a lot of people from a lot of different places while I was there.
I would say a disadvantage is the fact that there was no specific major for what I wanted to do. Thats a problem for a lot of people when they want to get into this line of work. People ask us what sorts of things they need to do school-wise in order to get into this field, and our response is always the same. It doesnt matter where you go to school or what your major is, as long as you have the background through internships or independent studies thats the way to get a job. The classes you take in college prepare you in some ways, but they dont get you the job. The job comes from the work you do outside the classroom.
How did your experience in collegiate athletics have an impact on your life?
It was definitely a great opportunity for me to play [baseball] at St. Olaf. At a smaller school like St. Olaf, its kind of similar to high school in some ways. You have a group of friends that you hang out with most of the time, and when I got to St. Olaf I instantly had 35 guys that I knew, and they all had friends that I was then connected to. As a transfer student [Herman transferred to St. Olaf as a first year], this helped me become more comfortable in that new setting. Being on the baseball team also allowed me to maintain that competitive drive I had in high school as an athlete. [Being competitive] has helped me here with the Twins because you cant break into and succeed in this business if you are passive. Through my athletic involvement, I was able to learn that if I want something, I have to go after it. Its also about proving to my employer that once I get in, I can still be successful at what I do. Just like coach [Matt] McDonald had enough confidence to send me out to the mound and hold a close lead, my bosses have to know that Im going to go into that clubhouse and get all the interviews done that I need to get done.
As the media and player relations manager, what exactly does your job entail?
I set up interviews, and generally take care of any media requests that come in commercials, public service announcements and player appearances (like an autograph signing) I set all that stuff up. A lot of it is media services; whatever the media wants. My job is to make our club as accessible as any other club in major league baseball. This means that we need to do a lot more than teams like the [New York] Yankees in terms of media services, because everyone wants to cover the Yankees.
Another aspect of my job is taking care of the baseball information, like stats, game notes and baseball-related press releases. Basically, we disseminate information. Our job is to get as much information out there promoting the Twins as possible. There are some cases where we have to deliver negative information, but we try to put a positive spin on it if at all possible.
What would you say are some of your favorite parts of your job?
Number one, I get to watch baseball for a living. Growing up, playing the game, I just love the game of baseball. I get to be around a great organization, one of the best organizations in the league to work for. Public relations people from different teams come into our office when their team is in town and comment on how theres a different feel when you walk around the Twins offices. Everyones happy, everyones upbeat. Part of that is because the upper management treats everyone so well. In our organization, most people still come from within. You start here, you keep moving up, and finally, you get to the top.
One of my other favorite things is that I get to travel a lot. I get to go on a lot of road trips, see a lot of different cities and ballparks, and meet a bunch of different people.
As a Twins fan, Im curious: How do you think the 2005 Twins will fare?
I dont see why we cant repeat as Central Division champions. Our pitching staff is still one of the best in the major leagues; in spring training we lead the American League in earned run average. There are still some question marks surrounding the shortstop position, but other than that, we should be just fine.