Building Twins Territory

Miguel Ramos reaches out to Minnesota communities to ensure everyone is welcome at Target Field and beyond

Miguel Ramos, Director of Diversity and Inclusion Strategy, Minnesota Twins

Just behind center field at Target Field stands an enlarged version of the Minnesota Twins’ 1961 logo. Two ball players—one representing Minneapolis and one representing St. Paul—shake hands over the Mississippi River. The team was named the Minnesota Twins to bring together residents of both cities.

From the Budweiser Roof Deck, Miguel Ramos looks out across the field toward the former logo. His task as director of diversity and inclusion strategy is to ensure everyone feels welcome in what the organization calls Twins Territory.

“We don’t have a Latino Twins Territory, we don’t have an African American Twins Territory, we don’t have a white Twins Territory,” he explains. “We only have one Twins Territory, and it is for everyone. In everything we do, we want to be sure that everyone feels included.”

Nine years ago, after a short period as a consultant for the organization, Ramos came aboard to lead the newly created diversity marketing department. The department concentrates on building relationships and inviting all communities to connect and be part of Twins Territory.

“That’s what baseball brings to life,” Ramos says. “The opportunity to get the attention of some people or a community—what are you going to do with that? You can choose to build something or do nothing. My goal is to build.”

And build he has, reaching communities such as the India Association, the Black Chamber of Commerce, Global Market, Green Card Voices, and Twin Cities Pride. He builds relationships with each community and organization he reaches out to, with the intention of doing more than just a dedicated game night. The Twins want to be a part of the community, attending and supporting community events.

For Ramos and the Twins, there are 162 games a season, but they celebrate diversity 365 days a year. “We understand that we are not here for a checkbox,” he says. “We are here to make sure everyone is welcome in Target Field.”

This is a philosophy that Ramos holds close in his mind and heart. He believes it’s his destiny to work for the Minnesota Twins and help other people be successful. Twenty-five years ago, Ramos emigrated to Minnesota from Puerto Rico. He knew very little English, but he started work as a cleaner in order to provide a good life for his wife and daughter. “It was tough, and it was hard—and that doesn’t include the weather,” he says with a laugh.

He looked for oppor-tunities to grow, serving as an executive director for a Latino agency to demonstrate who he was and what he could do. That led to contributing to various media outlets such as the Pioneer Press and Vice Versa, joining nonprofit boards (including United Way, the Science Museum of Minnesota, and the St. Paul & Community Foundation), and becoming involved in community issues. He built his own consulting business, working with professional sports teams such as the Minnesota Timberwolves and the Minnesota Twins.

When the Twins approached him with the diversity marketing director position, he had his doubts. “To do this, organizations really need to be committed,” he says. “This is not one time a year, or something to check the box.”

Ramos sat down with Twins president Dave St. Peter and explained why he believes what he does and what he could do for the organization. “Then,” Ramos says, “I asked him, ‘Are you really committed to this?’ He said, ‘Yes, Miguel, we are.’ Now it’s been nine years. Like everything, there are challenges, but we are accomplishing great things.”

Together with his team, Ramos works to infuse diversity into a variety of programs, including TwinsFest, Winter Caravan, and networking events every year. Of all the programs, Ramos’s favorite is the Reading is Powerful program. Every spring, before the home opener, Twins front-office staff, including St. Peter, visit nearly two dozen elementary schools to teach 1,600 fourth and fifth graders about Jackie Robinson and
Roberto Clemente.

“When we go to those schools to read books about Robinson and Clemente, we talk about things beyond baseball,” Ramos says. “We talk about each of their values, how they broke barriers, and how they helped other people. We talk about anti-bullying, and how bullying is not right. I had the opportunity to tell them what happened to my own self and my own daughter.”

When his daughter was six years old, she came home from school crying. She was the only Latina in the school at the time, and none of her classmates wanted to play with her. Ramos sat down with his daughter and told her he understood because it happened to him, too.

“Sometimes people don’t have time to understand who you are and what you have in your mind and in your heart,” he told her. “I know the pain you have because I have the same thing. When we’re finished crying, we’re going to work together to demonstrate to all those people who don’t believe that we have a lot to put on the table—that we’re smart people, and we’re going to be more successful than a large number of people in this country.”

This year, Ramos visited his daughter’s former elementary school, where the demographic had changed in the twenty-odd years since. He had the opportunity to share his daughter’s story with the hope of preventing other students from experiencing the same kind of pain his daughter did when she was a child.

On another school visit, Ramos met a small boy whose name was also Miguel, and he gave the boy the opportunity to join him for the rest of the day, letting young Miguel introduce himself as a member of the Twins organization. At the end of the day, when Ramos was talking to the boy, he learned about how Miguel was struggling to get his grades up. So, he made Miguel a deal: if he brought his grades up, Ramos would give him a Joe Mauer-autographed baseball.

A couple of months later, Ramos received a call from Miguel. He had brought his grades up, but he wasn’t calling to get the baseball. He wanted Ramos to know he was able to accomplish his goal. “People need someone to invest a little time in them,” Ramos says.

Through his work for the Twins, Ramos is able to make a difference and bring communities together—even more so than when he was running his consulting business. When he goes around to talk with different communities and organizations, saying he’s with the Minnesota Twins, people are more willing to hear what he has to say and to understand what he is trying to do.

Baseball is amazing, Ramos explains, because it reaches different communities through its history and tradition in the United States. “When you see all these people coming together each year, you see the passion they have,” he says. “They feel the pain together and the happiness together. Baseball brings us together.”