Prior to being offered a fulltime position with the organization, Miguel Ramos worked on the Minnesota Twins’ Spanish radio game broadcasts.
Ramos, who was a business consultant at the time, says, “I didn’t have to think about it twice” when a team official approached him, but added that he wanted some assurances from the Twins, who wanted to start a new outreach department.
“I had to talk with [team president] Dave St. Peter,” he recalls. He asked him, “What are you looking for? If you are looking for a Latino person or a minority person that you can put in management but will not be receiving any resources, I am not that person for you. But if you want someone who is going to challenge you, to challenge the organization, yes, I am that person.”
He has been the team’s first-ever emerging markets manager for almost two years now. “I want the Twins to be successful, but I want the community at the same time to be successful,” Ramos says. “I look at all the opportunities the Twins have, and see how that opportunity can fit with a particular community or organization.” Ramos and an intern run the department.
Louis Adams, a 2006 North High grad who still lives in the city’s North Side, said he learned about the internship earlier this year while still at the U of M. He began in March, two months before he graduated in May with a marketing degree.
“It has been a great opportunity to learn the organization, to learn the different departments, to learn the community, and to learn the importance of inclusion in the metro area,” notes the 22-year-old.
“I never see diversity – I see the person,” says Ramos. “If [a person of color] don’t meet the standard, if I don’t find a minority person, I’m going to have a White person [for the internship]. We don’t lower the standards [because] I know we have good people outside with the capacity. They just need the opportunity.”
Just like himself. When he came to Minnesota 15 years ago from Puerto Rico, both Ramos and his then eight-year-old daughter shared a common challenge – both spoke very little English at the time. “It was a big challenge, starting from zero,” he continues.
“One day she came home crying, and I was very concerned. She told me, ‘Dad, I don’t want to go to that school. The kids don’t want to play with me – they laugh at me because they can’t understand me and I can’t understand them.’
“I told her that the same thing happens to me. [Adults] don’t have time to understand me. But I told her, ‘Let’s commit together and demonstrate to everyone what we can do.’
“She was a National Honor Society [student in high school], and in nine more months she will graduate from the University of Minnesota as a lawyer,” Ramos says proudly of his now-adult daughter. “Right now, I still work on my American English, but that don’t stop me.”
Ramos has reached out to long-established Black businesses, such as Ken Davis Enterprises owner and president Barbara Davis. “I called Barbara and said, ‘Can we talk?’ She said, ‘Miguel, the African American community doesn’t care too much about the Twins.’ Then I said, ‘Barbara, that’s why I’m here.
We won’t make [excuses] on what happened in the past, but what we need to do now and for the future.’ Right now, we have a wonderful relationship.”
“They [the Twins] got the right person in that job,” surmises Davis on Ramos. “[He] is a good man.”
According to Ramos, no other Major League Baseball club has an emerging markets department such as the Twins’. “Here I have resources, but everything is a process,” he says, explaining that his goal in building relationships with the area’s communities of color will in turn becomes a win-win for both parties.
“We don’t lower the standard for [anybody],” he strongly points out. “Business is a two-way: How can I tell what I can do, and how you can help me with what you have. This is not public relations, but a business.
“Sometimes people in Minnesota say, ‘Oh, poor Latino, African American – we need to give this [or that],'” he points out. “Yes, we have low-income people and we have to work with them. Like any community, we [also] have professionals – we are very rich in culture and human resources, and we have money, too.
“I want to build bridges. We are going to do more than just [play games],” concludes Ramos. “If I don’t see that we are moving forward, to be only a rubber stamp, I will be the first one to quit. I don’t have time to lose.”
Charles Hallman welcomes reader responses to email@example.com