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DMS teacher is Twins trivia king

Jim Hoey has been a Twins fan for as long as the team has been in Minnesota.

What Minnesota Twins player shared American League Rookie of the Year honors?

How many winning seasons did Tom Kelly have?

Which Twin shares the record for being hit by a pitch in a single game?

Jim Hoey knows the answers to those questions, and he's got a lot more like them in Minnesota Twins Trivia, a new book that features more than 1,000 Twins Trivia questions.

The questions are a combination of obscure items Hoey remembered from his years as a Twins fan, items submitted by friends and things that came up during his research.

Hoey, a longtime middle school social studies teacher in the Farmington School District, started writing the book in January of 2009 and originally planned just to put something together for his friends. Then his wife suggested he try to get it published, and things grew from there. Hoey has spent the last few weeks promoting the book with newspaper and radio interviews. We sat down with him last week to talk about the book.

Tell me about this book.

I've been interested in sports since I was a young kid. Originally I was going to go to school to be a sports writer. Then I thought about going to law school and eventually I went into teaching. I've always liked statistics. I've always liked writing. I've always liked sports. I've always liked history so this is really a natural in a way. It kind of combines all four things.... People know I'm a sports man so I've received books about baseball and sports and especially trivia books. I like trivia. I've always kind of had this in the back of my mind, I wouldn't mind taking a shot at this sometime. I started doing this just on my own, for myself and got an idea to try and elaborate more just on a specific answer, elaborate more on the trivia. I thought I would kind of expand some other areas. I have a chapter where I list out all-time Twins. The top four Twins. I have an introduction chapter I really like just talking about baseball and the impact it's had in my life. I've got a section on managers. I've got a section on All Stars. Nicknames. I think people will like it because it's a varied book. It's not the type of thing you have to pick up at page one and read to page 200. It's something you can have on the coffee table when you're watching the game. It was a lot of fun to do.

Was there a moment where you went from, "I'm just doing this for the heck of it"' to "I'm going to actually make something out of this"?

When I started to do this my wife looked at it and said, "You should think about maybe trying to get this published. Have somebody take a look at it and see if it's worth getting published." So I started working on it about January of 2009 and I worked on it about four months or so and kind of put it together. I did a script that I put together and brought it to someone who's kind of an authority on baseball and he thought it might be worthy.... After the (2009) season was over this past fall I signed a contract....

The hardest part is verifying the accuracy of the answers. That's tough because there's an incredible amount of dates, names and numbers in the book. I think we've done a pretty good job of that....

Doing the questions, I kind of formulated them in my head.... I would just think, remember when this happened? I was in Boston on my honeymoon when they had the two triple plays so I put that in there.

Were there things that you came up with and said, "No, that's too obvious"? Were you trying to make it obscure?

I'm probably considered a more serious baseball fan than many. I tried to make it interesting and challenging, informative and entertaining. I think this book is for the devoted Twins fan and for the novices. I have a chapter on kids' stuff, which is just a chapter on what I think are easier questions. What do they call it when two outs are made on the same play? A twin killing, which is ironic because we're the Twins.... Most of the questions are fairly challenging, but I did not make this for experts. I tried to make this a book that the casual fan, the novice or the devout fan can all enjoy....

That's one thing I'd be interested to hear, how people find it once they go through it a lot. What their response is to it. I would love to take this sort of format to do the Vikings or the Minnesota state high school hockey tournament.

My hope is that this will kind of start my writing career. I am retiring from my teaching job in June, so I hope to get the opportunity.

Are there things you learned as you were doing this that surprised you?

I guess what surprised me is things that I had recollected and things that I even found in some sources, sometimes the sources are wrong.... That's difficult to know. After doing this I'm so impressed with people who do research to find their own answers.

This is a good time to have a Twins book. There's a lot of excitement about the team.

We tried to have it ready for the start of the season but I think we got lucky. The book coming out two or three weeks after the start of the season is actually a blessing because we've had this incredible weather. We have a great team. We've got this spectacular new ballpark.... We've been very fortunate. We did 5,000 books for our first printing and they're going to be coming out in bookstores now.

It has to have been a lot of fun. Like you said, this is something you would have done anyway.

Even now I'm trying to keep up with the new information, the new statistics coming out. I will hopefully, in four or five years, try to update this and come up with a new edition. One of my students, Nick Wilkowske, he caught the first home run at Target Field, Denard Span in right field in the exhibition game against the Cardinals. That was exciting, so I told Nick I'd put him in my next edition.

It's been great fun. I'm humbled by this.

Nathan Hansen

Nathan Hansen has been a reporter and editor with the Farmington Independent and the Rosemount Town Pages since 1997. He is very tall.

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