A team effort mixes high tech with foresight

  • Article by: JUDD ZULGAD , Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 21, 2010 - 6:31 AM

The White Sox led the Twins 8-6 in the top of the ninth inning Thursday night, but high above the first base line Sam Henschen was already thinking what would happen after the third out was made.

Henschen calmly said into his headset that he wanted "the never surrender video" (it's actually "The Pretender" by Foo Fighters) cued up. He shifted back to the present, calling out to a colleague a few seats down that Jose Mijares was warming up in the Twins bullpen.

 The electronic board above the bullpen quickly displayed Mijares' name. After the White Sox were retired, a video appeared on the stadium's main scoreboard with the Foo Fighters music.

The flurry of activity is all in a night's work for Henschen, who is listed as the Twins' scoreboard coordinator -- a title that probably doesn't do the 29-year-old justice. In his first season as a full-time employee -- he started as an intern in 2003 and was a part-time employee from 2004 to '09 -- Henschen has the main say over how the in-game presentation at Target Field is executed.

Working from a long booth on the first base line of the stadium's fifth floor, Henschen is in communication with several of the 35 people who make up the gameday staff. Video coordinator Jim Diehl is the only other member of the crew who is full time. The game plan for night games takes shape at a 4:30 p.m. meeting.

During games, a crew of eight sits directly behind Henschen, using the countless monitors and technology in front of them to decide how things should be presented on the 57-foot-high, 101-foot-wide high-definition scoreboard.

In the front row of the booth are about a dozen people handling everything from the scoreboard fireworks after a Twins home run (someone has to climb up by the huge bank of left field lights before each game and load them), to the Twins-O-Gram messages, to the open captioning boards that display the spoken words on the public address system.

Henschen is like a head football coach during the game. He uses final say where he thinks it's necessary but often trusts the others to make the right call. His directions include making the decision on whether a replay should be shown -- Major League Baseball does not want close plays aired on the scoreboard.

The Twins fell to the White Sox 8-7 in a 3-hour, 34-minute game; Henschen worked 14 hours.

"Our goal is for the equipment to work and keeping the crowd in the game," he said. "A lot of that just depends on the game. But this is a lot of fun. A lot of fun."

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