Twins Talk, July 2 02 Jul 15

Beam Me into a Suite, Scotty!

Photos and Story by Gordy Jones

One of the strongest pillars of the Twins organization is almost unknown to the general public. He is known, however, to thousands of folks who, since 1985, have purchased season tickets or have been group leaders for their companies or organizations and have planned group outings to watch the Twins play ball. Call him on his phone, and you will hear a magnificent set of pipes, with a warm, friendly voice answering: “Scott O’Connell here!”

Scott grew up in South St. Paul loving baseball, particularly Twins baseball. But like so many other Twins employees, he learned at an early age that if he wanted to work in baseball, it wouldn’t be as a player.

Scott attended Brown College, formerly Brown Institute, and worked in radio for nearly a decade, using his powerful vocal cords. But his love for baseball and his great salesmanship directed him to an ad in a 1984 Pioneer Press classified section in which the Twins were looking for reps to sell season tickets in conjunction with the upcoming 1985 All-Star Game. Scott was hired, and has been a staple ever since. I reminded Scott that at one time he was my sales rep, selling me season and group tickets when I was employed by the Pioneer Press. He explained to me, “Yes! It’s been a lot of years…31 seasons I’ve been here. I get to enjoy people like yourself who have a love for baseball. Every day I get to come to a ballpark for my job. That’s not a bad deal.”   

When the Twins began building Target Field, Scott was the director of ticket sales, but was promoted to the director of suites, premium seats, sales, and service. He opened a marketing center on the 46th floor of City Center, overlooking a parking lot where he and his customers could watch Target Field being constructed. From up there, he could do what he does best, and that is to sell. He sold most of the suites, and all of the Champions Club seats as season tickets. Champion Club seats go for roughly $200 a pop, per game. But he modestly said that they sell themselves, because they are in an all-inclusive food and beverage section of the park right behind home plate. He explained that what he had to sell was the concept of the Champions Club; the idea was new to Minnesota. Once people figured it out, it was easy for him. The Champions Club offers cushioned chairs, blankets when it’s chilly, and the seats are closer to the batter than the pitcher is. They even include valet parking. And they not only include baseball food, ice cream, and snacks, but also a lavish buffet created by the Twins’ chefs. It is available two hours before the game, and includes soda, beer, and wine.

Scott is also in charge of the Legends Club, and also the many luxury suites at Target Field. Scott pointed out that the Vikings have set up a marketing center just as the Twins did, but they have twenty people doing what Scott did alone. 

After the Twins won the 1987 World Series, Scott accompanied Herb Carneal, Kirby Puckett, and Dan Gladden on the winter caravan. Scott told me how closely the four of them bonded while on the road. The four of them even made the front page of USA Today while on that caravan. While making an appearance at a Holiday Inn in Fargo, they drew so many fans, the fire marshal had to come and shut it down. They drew 3000 fans to a room with less than half of that capacity.

Herb and Kirby have since passed, but to this day Twins announcer and former star Danny Gladden is one of his best friends. Their families spend time together and even vacation together.

Scott continued to talk about his career with the Twins: “When I started, I was the young kid on the block. I was the wet-behind-the ears kid. I was learning from everyone else…but our front office was not very big back in those days. Our sales department was only three people, and now it’s 35 people. Now, instead of being the young man on the block, I’m the old sage – the old veteran, and people want to come to me for advice or guidance.”

Scott says that since he no longer goes on the caravan, he doesn’t know the current team as well as he knew the teams that he traveled with. “The caravan was a great way to get to know the players. Today I probably know the coaches better than the players. But I still have a great relationship with the alumni players.”

One of Scott’s ideas has become one of the Twins’ biggest nongame events. That is Twins Fest. I remember him telling me years ago that he was about to pitch an idea of having a card and autograph party right on the field of the Dome in mid-January, and use it as a tool to sell season tickets and market the Twins. His idea has developed into an annual three-day festival that has raised a lot of money for charities, and brought many smiles to kids’ faces.

Scott and his wife, Pam, have become wine connoisseurs since taking their first trip to Napa Valley 10 years ago on their 25th wedding anniversary. They have since gone back there several times, and they plan to celebrate their 35th   anniversary there this October. Together they have gravitated from drinking cheap, sweet, white wine, into owning a wine cellar with more than 700 bottles of mostly reds.

Scott and Pam have two adult “baseball” children. Michael is known as Mick for Mickey Mantle, and daughter Allison will be married at Target Field this autumn — and now has a concern it might be on a playoff day if the Twins can go that far.  

Through the years it has been fun to know Scott. He loves life, and I’ve watched him mature both professionally and personally. But he ages slowly and well, like his best red wines.