Interview with Stew Thornley

Stew Thornley observes a baseball game from the scorer's box.

Stew Thornley can trace his multidirectional trajectory to a foundational interest in writing and speaking. "I had worked in radio broadcasting after high school, was a business major in college, and started writing books during the 1980s while I was working in sales," he says. "After my first book came out, I was recruited by a construction magazine to write for them."

Writing was to become the narrative thread to Thornley's story. A sports historian, he has written more than 40 books and authored dozens of biographies and articles for the Society for American Baseball Research BioProject, covering both athletes and venues (the Athletic Parks of Minneapolis and Saint Paul, the Dale and Aurora Grounds, Midway Stadium, etc.). In fact, after a catalyzing road trip with his family in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, Thornley made a project of visiting the gravesites of former ballplayers and other public figures. On his website he writes, "As of 2013, I've been to the graves of all the presidents."

"I eventually ended up at the Health Department," he notes, referring to his job as an educator for the Minnesota Department of Health. There, he organizes training and public affairs, composes their newsletter, Waterline, and manages media inquiries for the drinking water program. He’s also participated in events that introduce middle and high school students to research related to the state's clean drinking water, with hopes of igniting their interest in the field. Thornley also has been a regular contributor to the annual Water Resources Conference, of which the College of Continuing and Professional Studies is a partner.

Prior to the pandemic that altered all our lives, Thornley could be found evenings and weekends in the press box at Minnesota Twins and Timberwolves games—yet another chapter of his many-storied existence, that of official scorer for Major League Baseball and the National Basketball Association.

Stew Thornley is an official scorer for Major League Baseball and the National Basketball Association. A sports historian, he has written more than 40 books, including The Saint Paul Saints: Baseball in the Capital City (Minnesota Historical Society Press, 2015), Minnesota Twins Baseball: Hardball History on the Prairie (The History Press, 2014), Baseball in Minnesota: The Definitive History (Minnesota Historical Society Press, 2006), and On to Nicollet: The Glory and Fame of the Minneapolis Millers (Nodin Press, 2000).