Thor Nystrom was like many sports-crazed youths, dreaming of one day becoming a professional athlete.
As a youth the 2003 Brainerd High School graduate participated in many sports and eventually, like most of us, realized his dream of playing pro ball wasn't going to come true.
So he decided to pursue a career that would enable him to remain closely connected to sports. Nystrom left Brainerd to attend the University of Kansas where he began pursuit of a degree in journalism.
That decision helped him land an internship as an associated reporter for Major League Baseball.com, covering his favorite team, the Minnesota Twins.
Thor Nystrom studied journalism at the University of Kansas.
"I've wanted to be a sports writer ever since I knew I couldn't play professional sports, and that was quite a long time ago," Nystrom said this week. "I was not very athletic. I would say since I was probably in the eighth grade I've wanted to be a sports writer.
"I was pretty good at was writing so this was kind of a natural fit. I think I could have written about anything, but it's nice to be interested in the subject you're writing about."
Nystrom is about as lucky to secure an internship with mlb.com as it is for a player to become a major-leaguer. There are only 30 beat writers and 30 associate reporters for mlb.com and he was selected from hundreds of applicants.
The 23-year-old interviewed with mlb.com last fall but didn't hear anything until early January when he was sitting in the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport.
While checking his phone messages he found one from a mlb.com official.
"I called him back and he said, 'We would like to offer you the internship this summer, and I blurted out, 'I accept,' and he started laughing," Nystrom said. "Then he said, 'You don't even know what team you're going to,' and I told him I would accept any team. He said, 'Id like to give you the Twins,' and I was just excited. He said, 'With your first name I don't how we could not have given you Minnesota.'"
Nystrom started May 20 with a series against the Texas Rangers and admits he had a difficult time, initially, being objective.
"My first day was surreal," he said. "I've been a Twins fan all my life and all of a sudden I'm meeting my boss behind the Metrodome at the loading dock.
We walk down through the bowels of the dome, I show my press pass and all of a sudden I'm in the Twins locker room.
"I tried to act as professional as I could, but I was looking around. I was a bit in awe. That feeling wore off in about 15 minutes. All of a sudden everyone is surrounding Justin Morneau, trying to conduct an interview. That feeling didn't come back."
Nystrom assists Kelly Thesier, the head Twins reporter for mlb.com. Associate reporters are primarily responsible for writing a few feature stories a day.
Beat writers' duties include writing features or news stories before games, followed by the game story. When the game ends a brief story, with no quotes, must be posted on the Web. Reporters then go to the clubhouse to interview managers and players and return to write a longer game story with quotes.
Following completion of the game story beat reporters also must write a preview story for the next day's game.
Nystrom has served as a beat writer when Thesier has a day off and when the opposing team's beat writer doesn't travel. He has served as beat writer for the Baltimore Orioles, Detroit Tigers, Milwaukee Brewers and Cleveland Indians.
"I would say almost every single player is pretty professional," Nystrom said. "They're pretty nice. They know how it goes. They know part of their job is talking to the media, and most of them are pretty good about it."
Nystrom's internship runs through completion of the Twins' season. He hopes to land a job in an mlb.com market. If he can't he will venture into a tight job market.
"Obviously, I'm hoping to parlay this into some sort of job," Nystrom said. "I know the outlook is not overly sunny because of the state of the newspaper industry. I'm trying not to get my hopes up too high on what sort of job I will garner. Obviously, I'll look around and hope I can find something I like doing."
MIKE BIALKA may be reached at email@example.com or at 855-5861.
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