A.J. Pettersen is a utility infielder/outfielder in the Minnesota Twins organization. He spent last year with the Beloit Snappers of the Midwest League. In the offseason Pettersen is a freelance writer and contributes to Twinsdaily.com throughout the year.
Like many other kids, I grew up dreaming of playing in the big leagues. As a shortstop, I imagined being Derek Jeter, getting big hits in the playoffs and winning the World Series. When I stopped growing at 5-foot-9 around the age of 18, I decided Dustin Pedroia might be a better idol. I was going to be the small, scrappy guy who hit doubles and bombs. Then I realized I couldn’t hit many bombs or doubles and became a utility player. Now I look up to Jamey Carroll. It’s funny how we rework our dreams as we get older. There aren’t many backyard ballplayers dreaming of filling in at a different position every night, but that sounds perfect to me.
I am a recently married, cooking, shopping, and cleaning Mr. Mom for my new family of two. I graduated from the University of Minnesota with a degree in Economics and a minor in Spanish. In a round (25th) when most players aren’t listening to the draft, I cried when my name was called. I am passionate about everything I do and I love being a lens through which baseball fans can see what minor league life is all about.
I enjoy Netflix, Taylor Swift songs, the sound of a perfectly struck baseball, chicken enchiladas and the smell of a new pack of cards. I dislike long lines, bad hops, uncomfortable clothing and wind chills below zero.
Growing up in a suburb of Minneapolis/St. Paul called Minnetonka, I have been a Twins fan my entire life. I grew up watching Torii Hunter rob homeruns and Johan Santana strike out everyone. I went to games at the Dome, ate hot dogs and enjoyed chilly April nights inside the friendly confines of a Teflon roof.
The “Twins Way” has been all I have ever known. Their scrappy style has been applauded and criticized over the years, but the Twins haven’t wavered. I learned a lot from watching guys like Nick Punto when I was younger. Meeting greats like Tom Kelly and Paul Molitor has reiterated what it means to play the “Twins Way.” This hard-working and fundamental style of play is the way I have played my whole life, and is how I will continue to play in the future.
Entering professional baseball, I wasn’t sure what to expect. My background knowledge of the profession was limited to what I had seen on TV and heard from friends in the minors. I quickly met teammates from all over the world. The Czech Republic, Australia, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Venezuela, Germany and United States were all represented on the Elizabethton Twins in 2011. Talk about a culture shock. At the University of Minnesota we started an entire lineup made up of players from the Land of 10,000 Lakes, and prior to pro ball, I hadn’t played with too many guys who pronounced the name of our state with less than two or three “O’s.” Now my teammates speak languages I barely understand, or not at all.
Professional baseball has afforded me the opportunity to make friends with people I wouldn’t otherwise have met, expanding my worldview and teaching me a great deal. I have learned that the Taiwanese write in Mandarin and like to give themselves one, two or sometimes three different American names. I now know that “arroz con pollo” is the favorite dish of most Latin guys. The Aussies have taught me that calling someone a “bloke” can carry a positive or negative connotation depending on the word immediately preceding it.
I have many stories I will be able to share with my grandkids someday, like the time I tried to hit a fastball with my nose or the time Miguel Sano walked off in Cedar Rapids. I look forward to sharing stories and interacting with many of you as I continue my journey as a minor league utility man.
You can follow AJ on twitter @apettersen1.