Joseph Sutton, Jr. is among a rare group in pro sports today. He is the Minnesota Twins and Minnesota Wild in-game host—the only Black host working for both local pro teams.
Sutton has been with the Twins for a couple of seasons, and just completed his first season in St. Paul. “I had an internship with [the Twins] and I was basically a production assistant,” he explained. “Midway through the season, the program director asked me what my goals were, what I wanted to do. I always wanted to be a game host.”
A North Minneapolis native, Sutton graduated from the University of Northwestern-St. Paul with a B.A. Sc. (applied science) in electronic media communication. He’s also been a comedian for some time as well, which Sutton believes helped prepare him for his current sports gigs.
As game host, Sutton said he is “responsible for the fan engagement in our game entertainment. I do a lot of interactive games. I introduce the special characters. I introduce the games. They [the Twins] gave me a lot of creative control to be myself, try to bring a little bit of flavor when I’m there.”
Sutton is part of a team of in-game hosts at Twins home games: “We try to balance each other’s schedules out,” he said.
He admitted that he was a bit of a class clown in school. “I just have so much energy all the time,” Sutton said. “I love sports … it was always a passion of mine. My dad was always telling me that my purpose was to be in sports.”
The late Rev. Joe Sutton and his wife always had their son’s back—his father was with him when he got the call from the Twins. “I lost my mind at the time,” he recalled. “I was eating breakfast with my dad. We both just freaked out.
“That was one thing that I always appreciated about my dad was he always supportive, that he pushed me,” Sutton said proudly of his father. “He was rooting for me. My dad was one of those people that saw every step of my career and my process. He saw how hard I was [in striving for my goals]. He saw my ups and downs.”
He added, “My mom was very, very supportive, very encouraging.”
Sutton still does stand-up comedy: “I think it goes hand-in-hand,” Sutton said of working pro games and being on stage.
Without accurate numbers, Sutton said he is among a few Blacks nationwide doing in-game hosting of baseball games, and probably even fewer when it comes to hockey games.
However, there are more Blacks doing what he does in basketball (both the Wolves and the Lynx have them) and in football.
Finally, Sutton’s advice for those who aspire to work in pro sports: “There’s no set path. You can’t get a degree in professional sports hosting,” he noted. “You got to work on your craft for that opportunity. You got to give it your all.”
Charles Hallman is a contributing reporter and award-winning sports columnist at the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder.