Craig Nordquist ‘11: Sports researcher turns passion into Emmy Awards

Posted on March 29th, 2021 by

by Dana Melius

Beginning his sports career as an usher for the Minnesota Twins, Craig Nordquist turned his love for baseball into a key role on the MLB Network research team—and five Sports Emmy Awards.

That’s Major League Baseball and the MLB Network’s signature daily studio show, MLB Tonight. And as he prepares for his 10th year as one of the network’s researchers and trivia whizzes, Nordquist—just 32—hopes there’s much more to come.

“My primary day-to-day task is to write daily, stat-driven game previews for our research packet. That packet of information is then sent out to our on-air talent and producers to be used on our shows,” Nordquist said via email as he prepared for another MLB season.

If that sounds like a person deeply dedicated to the minutiae of baseball statistics, you’re right. It’s a talent Nordquist gained while growing up in Plymouth, carried with him and honed through his Gustavus years, and continues to shape his award-winning young career.

“MLB Network has lots of viewers, so there’s certainly an attention to detail and an emphasis on accuracy with each bit of information that I pass along to our crew,” Nordquist says.

But he’s quick to say that the Emmy Awards are “completely a team effort. There are many talented people with different strengths that each contribute in their own way to create such a top-notch show. I’m just one part of that process.”

“I kind of pinch myself that I’m doing this for a living,” Nordquist adds. “It does kind of boggle my mind.”

It was actually his employment as a Twins stadium usher that indirectly caught the eye of the MLB Network recruiters. Just months after Nordquist graduated from Gustavus in 2011, the Twins invited all employees to take a written trivia test, with the winner moving on to a contest airing on MLB Network. Nordquist’s love of baseball, statistics, and obscure trivia won the local Twins competition; he then defeated Cleveland’s representative in the first round of “Baseball IQ,” winning $5,000 for the Twins Community Fund.

A second-round loss to the Director of Communications for the Baseball Hall of Fame, Craig Muder, still reaped benefits for Nordquist.

“As the youngest contestant on the show, I impressed the production team enough that I was more or less offered a job as I walked off the set that day,” he recalled. “When people ask me how I got my job, I tell them all it took was a nationally televised job interview.”

But those who watched or worked with Nordquist during his Gustavus years might disagree. He graduated Cum Laude with a major in communication studies and minors in Spanish and management.

“It was chaotic at times, but it was so rewarding in the long run,” he remembers. “Plus, balancing a schedule like that helped prepare me for the daily grind of a career in sports.”

“He’s just one of those students you’ll never forget,” says Patricia English, associate professor of communication studies. “He’s just a perfect combination of knowledge, an attention to detail, and a great communicator and listener.”

Nordquist (in yellow) with a group of fellow Gusties.

College classmate CJ Siewert ‘11, now the Sports Information Director at Gustavus, had several classes with Nordquist and both worked in that same office under the direction of Tim Kennedy ‘82, who is now the College’s Vice President for Marketing and Communication.

“I think both of us being diehard Twins fans, and baseball fans in general, gave us that initial connection,” Siewert said. “What always impressed me about Craig was his comprehensive knowledge of Major League Baseball. He certainly understands the game’s history at a higher level than anyone I know and it’s great to see him put that knowledge to use with his profession.”

Nordquist fondly recalls those Sports Information Office days at Gustavus.

“The guidance that I received from Tim Kennedy while working in the Sports Information Department played a large role in helping me launch my own career in sports,” Nordquist says. “I came to him with a vision of where I wanted to be and he helped equip me with the tools to get there.”

Of Kennedy, Nordquist says: “He’s fantastic. He’s such a great communicator. He’s such a good leader. He always challenged me but was always fair.”

Nordquist’s decision to enroll at Gustavus came quickly, as he toured the Saint Peter campus first when looking at colleges as a high school student and never veered away from wanting to attend.

“I knew I wanted to stay fairly close to home,” he said. And with Nordquist’s father commuting to work in Mankato at the time, there was a regional connection.

“The focus on community is at the heart of any Gustavus experience,” Nordquist said. “The people that I met my very first week on campus remain some of my closest friends to this day.”

Nordquist (right) was a member of the Gustavus men’s swim and dive team.

“I knew I wanted to attend a school that emphasized hands-on learning through smaller class sizes and a more personal approach. I also wanted to find a campus that had a strong community feel to it, where I could find myself contributing by being active in a number of on-campus organizations.”

“Honestly, it just felt right. The community just felt right.”

Nordquist’s Gustavus days were busy. He was on the Gusties’ swimming team, was a cellist and member of the College’s Philharmonic Orchestra, a sportswriter for the Gustavian Weekly, and interned with the Sports Information Office.

After his sophomore year, Nordquist interned in the sports department at KMSP Fox 9 News in the Twin Cities, writing copy for the newscasts and articles for the station’s website.

But it was Nordquist’s “dream internship” during the summer after his junior year that set the table for his eventual move into Major League Baseball and the MLB Network, working in the multimedia department at the National Baseball Hall of Fame & Museum in Cooperstown, New York. Today, one of his favorite MLB Network assignments is back at Cooperstown.

“It’s still surreal for me now to go back to Cooperstown each summer to help MLB Network cover the Hall of Fame induction ceremony every year,” he said.

“I knew early on that I wanted to work in baseball. And I decided early on to focus on three areas of study, each of which, I figured, could prove useful in a career in baseball. Over my four years on campus, the faculty of the communication studies, economics, and Spanish departments came to be like family to me.”

For professors like English, it was Nordquist who brought his gifts to those departments.

“He’s just one special young man,” she says. “His way of being in the world. He’s so well-rounded in other ways, too. He just embodies really what we want to see in our students, a lifelong learner.”


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