Alumni Working in NFL, MLB

From Coaches to Producer
Alumni Working in NFL, MLB

By Benjamin Gleisser

The Minnesota Vikings finished the 2016-2017 season with an 8-8 record, one victory away from making the playoffs. As players cleared out their lockers and began thinking about the offseason, Creighton alumnus Gerald “Skip” Krueger, BA’89, the director, broadcasting and coordinating producer of the Vikings Entertainment Network, began planning for next season, when the team will travel to London to play the Cleveland Browns.

“We’ve started watching videos of the stadium we’ll be playing in, and videos of London that we’ll upload to our social media page,” Krueger says from his office at the Vikings’ Winter Park headquarters in Eden Prairie, Minn. “We’re also planning to make videos following players around while they explore London.

“But once the game starts, it will be business as usual.”

Handling the Vikings’ media is a weeklong job, Krueger says. On Mondays, he and his nine-person team cover the post-game press conference and disseminate game footage for the coaches to study.

On Tuesdays, the players’ typical day off, his crew covers events such as players visiting children in a hospital, and then edits those segments for future use on Vikings pregame television shows.

On Wednesdays and Thursdays, as players and coaches prepare for the upcoming game, they are interviewed to create more pregame show content. On Saturdays, the pregame show is finalized and on game-day Sundays, he arrives at the stadium at 7 a.m. to get everything ready for the first kickoff.

And that’s his “usual” week.

“You never quite know what to expect,” he says with a laugh. “Suddenly, a coach gets fired, a player gets traded or the team has had an unbelievable win. My department has to quickly adjust to whatever happens. It can be tough. But when I hear people tell me, ‘Man, it must be a real cool thing you do,’ I think to myself, ‘Yeah, it is.’”

Growing up a “sports geek” in Aberdeen, S.D., Krueger entered Creighton intending to be a physician. A tough organic chemistry class made him rethink his life purpose, and he turned back to sports, his first love. He covered Creighton women’s basketball for The Creightonian newspaper, and was a sports reporter on the campus radio and television stations.

After graduation, an internship with the Minnesota Timberwolves later turned into a full-time job. “If you work hard enough and show people what you can do, they’ll find a place for you,” he says. He’s also worked as a producer at Fox Sports and joined the Vikings in 2014.

A favorite Creighton memory: meeting another Creighton alumnus who made his mark in professional sports.

“[Seattle Mariners manager] Scott Servais was in my dorm freshman year,” Krueger remembers. “He was one of the quietest guys I met, yet everyone knew he was going to do something big in baseball.”

Managing to Win

Last season, his first as manager of the Seattle Mariners, Servais guided his team to an 86-76 record, a 10-game improvement over its 2015 mark. The Mariners were in the hunt for a wild card playoff berth through the last week of the season, but fell short by three games.

The New York Mets wanted to draft Servais out of high school in 1985, but he elected to attend Creighton after being recruited by former head baseball coach Jim Hendry.

“I come from a small town, and knew I needed to go to college and grow up,” Servais says. “I saw Creighton had a great support staff of coaches and academic people.

“Hendry was a young coach who taught me that you can get more out of players when you pat them on the back, rather than barking at them.” He stops for a moment to laugh. “And I’ve been exposed to plenty of coaches who did a lot of barking.”

Besides playing catcher for the Bluejays, Servais was a member of Team USA and saw action in the 1987 Pan American Games, where the team won the silver medal, and the 1988 Summer Olympics, where the U.S. took home the gold. He was drafted by the Houston Astros after his junior year, and manned the backstop for five teams over his 11-year playing career.

Interestingly, Servais is the nephew of current Creighton baseball coach Ed Servais.

Asked to describe his managing style, Scott said, “My motto is, ‘It doesn’t matter where you came from, it matters where you end up.’ You have to be willing to roll the dice and not be intimidated by other people. I’m not afraid of taking chances. My job is to outsmart the other manager.”

And, Lastly …

Kimera Bartee, BUSADM’95, a member of Creighton’s 1991 NCAA College World Series team, is the new outfield and baserunning/first-base coach for the Pittsburgh Pirates, and Dave McKay, who attended Creighton and was drafted by the Minnesota Twins in 1971, is back for another season as first-base coach for the Arizona Diamondbacks.