Story and Photos by Gordy Jones
Sometime in the late 1970s to mid-1980s, while employed by the Pioneer Press, I was approached by an old friend who was in the candy business. He asked me if I could help him set up an employee holiday purchase program, where employees could buy candy at a discount, and he could sell in volume. At the time, there were nearly 1,500 employees at the Dispatch and Pioneer Press. I set up the program, and it was quite successful…and the candy was great.
In 1985, I stopped by the Twins’ office to plan the newspaper’s annual group outing to a Twins game. A new receptionist informed me that a new rep had been assigned to my account, and he’d be out to see me in a few minutes. She was still talking when my friend Matt Hoy entered the room. Matt is the friend who had sold the employees candy during the holiday season. The candy came from a company called Price’s Fine Chocolates, and it was owned by Mr. Carl Pohlad. The Pohlads had just purchased the Twins from Calvin Griffith, and that’s when Matt and his sales talents migrated from candy to Twins tickets. Matt wasn’t a hard-sell type of guy. He let his integrity, personality, and good business sense do the talking. He began rising to stardom within his company, moving around the Twins’ organization running various departments, including merchandising. It was at this point that he opened up the first Twins Pro Shop in downtown Minneapolis. He was soon promoted to vice president, and today he is senior vice president of operations. I have heard that Matt was instrumental in getting this year’s All-Star Game to be played in Minneapolis.
I asked Matt, as we get closer the game: what are his responsibilities related to the game? He thought for a moment and said, “That’s a good question. As coordinator, I touch just about every aspect of it — whether it’s stadium operations, broadcast production, event production, or coordinating with the city. But really, we’ve got such a veteran staff in place; they are experienced and capable of taking their assignments and running with them — but I have to be the quarterback, keeping my eyes on the ball, watching all of the circumstances and issues, and making sure that everything gets organized and is ready to be implemented once the event begins in July.”
My late, great friend Marty Springstead, who was the supervisor of major league umpires, used to love working with Matt. If there are ever any lighting, signage, or structural changes in a ball park, MLB must approve them. For many years, Marty was the MLB go-to-guy. He told me many times that out of all of the baseball teams, the Twins and Matt Hoy were the easiest to work with; actually he found it pleasurable working with the Twins. He also loved when Matt called him, because he knew it might mean a trip to Minneapolis, one of Marty’s favorite baseball cities — lots of friends and establishments. I know Marty would’ve loved to have worked on this year’s All-Star Game with Matt. He would already have had a party planned at Manny’s.
As far as changes go, I asked Matt Hoy if anything needs to be done to Target Field to get ready for the game. He said: “No. Other than adding a logo to the outfield in the grass, the field will be the same as it is now.”
Minnesotans will be proud. We have a great ballpark and state, which will be shown off to the world come July. All-Star week is in good hands with Matt Hoy.