By Steve Raymond
News Report Staff
Dave Pruemer just figured he would grow up and work on the family farm.
He was a decent student in school, but nothing extraordinary.
He even admitted college wasn’t “on his radar.”
But that was before he took a class that Linda Niendiek taught at Teutopolis High School.
“She knew I liked sports and that I liked the health, biology and science side of things,” Dave recalled. “She really turned me on to that and helped me a lot.”
That combination of sports and science has proven to be a successful one for the 45-year-old. He just recently completed his 22nd year as a trainer in the Minnesota Twins organization and his fourth year as head trainer.
“I really didn’t expect to even go to college,” Dave admitted. “But one thing rolled into the next and here we are. I’ve always prided myself on having common sense and that’s worked out pretty well. It’s been a fun ride.”
Dave was born and raised in Teutopolis, the son of Alice and the late Bernie Pruemer. His father was a dairy farmer. Dave was one of four kids. He has a brother, Doug, and two sisters – Cheryl (Fearday) and Cathy (Brummer).
Dave graduated from THS in 1989. His wife, Tina (Koester) was a 1991 graduate. He then went to Lake Land College for two years and then onto Southern Illinois University-Carbondale. He graduated in 1994 with a degree from the School of Education with a specialization in athletic training.
During his junior and senior years at SIU-C, Dave was fortunate to do an internship with the Pittsburgh Pirates Gulf Coast League team in Bradenton, Florida. After graduation, he had an internship as an athletic trainer in the sports department at Northwestern University.
Despite these opportunities, however, Dave said “I still didn’t know for sure what I wanted to do.”
Following the internship at Northwestern, the college hired Dave to work with the football and baseball teams.
“That’s when I knew I wanted to get back into baseball,” he noted. “And fortunately for me, that’s when I hooked up with the Minnesota Twins.”
Dave actually started with the Twins at the end of the strike year in 1995.
“I gave myself 10 years to make it to the big leagues,” Dave said. “I just took it year by year.”
He spent one year with the Twins Rookie League club in Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania; two seasons at High A in Ft. Myers, Florida; four years at Double A in New Britain, Connecticut; and three years with the Triple A team, first in Edmonton, Canada, and then in Rochester, New York.
Ten years later, however, in 2005, Dave was added to the training staff with the Major League club. He served eight years as an assistant and the last four as head trainer. His staff includes two assistant trainers and one strength coach.
“The Twins are a community and family-oriented organization,” Dave said. “They have always been good to me.”
As a trainer, Dave works with players in both prevention and rehabilitation of injuries. On a daily basis, he communicates with doctors, the front office and the field staff to give updates on players’ conditions.
“Our job as trainers is all over the board,” Dave added. “It could be everything from putting on a Band-Aid to taking care of broken bones. Sometimes I call it adult day care for really rich people.”
Every day is different, but he likes that.
“I’ve always liked the unknown. I’ve lived like that my whole life. I never know what I’ll be doing next,” Dave said. “It’s that way in the training room. You see different players every day, every week.”
And it starts the first day of spring training.
“They’re sore and they should be. If they aren’t sore, they aren’t working hard enough,” Dave noted. “And all the players are different. Sore to one person is nothing to another. But you get to know the players over time and understand what they can take and what they can’t.”
One thing Dave has not had to deal with is steroid issues.
“There will always be people out there that are trying to gain an advantage,” he explained. “But to my knowledge, steroids have never been around our clubhouse. When there have been problems, it’s because the players were dealing with people outside of baseball.
“The large majority of players want it to be a clean game,” Dave added. “When you hear it discussed in the clubhouse, that’s what they talk about – making it a clean game. And I believe baseball has done a tremendous job of trying to do just that. They fight the battle every day.”
Through the years, Dave has become good friends with several Twins players – Jim Thome, Torii Hunter, Michael Cuddyer, Justin Morneau and Joe Mauer, to name just a few.
“They are all very good friends,” Dave said. “If I needed something, I could contact them and they would be there for me.”
Dave and Tina have three children – Hannah, 15; Dylan, 12; and Tyler, 10. They live in Woodbury, a suburb of Minneapolis/St. Paul. As trainer for a Major League baseball team, when the Twins are on the road, Dave is on the road, too.
“It’s tough leaving the kids and missing some of the things they do,” he admitted. “But my life is just like a ballplayer.”
Normally, the family goes on at least one road trip during the season and also spends some time in Florida during spring training.
The Twins haven’t had a winning record in six years and haven’t reached the playoffs since 2010. Dave was with them during both the 2009 and 2010 playoffs when they were swept by the Yankees in the opening round. He also experienced the opening of the Twins new ballpark – Target Field – in 2010 and served as the trainer when Minnesota hosted the All-Star Game in 2014.
He said his favorite cities to visit during the season are Chicago, Kansas City, Seattle and Milwaukee. His favorite stadium is Fenway Park in Boston.
He also likes Yankee Stadium, although he said the renovation done a few years ago, “took away much of the intimidation. You always felt like the fans were right behind you, breathing down your neck. That’s not the case any longer. But the stadium is still something to see.”
A couple weeks ago, Dave and his family made the 8½-hour drive to Teutopolis for a visit. They had a chance to talk with many people, plus Dave spoke at the CEO Class.
“Mom is still here, so we try to get back as often as possible,” he admitted. “It’s always fun coming back and visiting with family and friends. There are great memories here.
“Teutopolis helped prepare me for a lot of things,” Dave continued. “They take a lot of pride in their town. They do things the right way. I learned a lot from the people here. My mom and dad also taught me a lot. Growing up on a farm, I learned to work hard and have respect.”
And to understand small town life.
“When I was on my way to town, I passed a car on the road and we both waved,” he said. “I had no idea who was in the other car, but we just automatically waved. Down here, that’s just habit.
“Eventually, we’ll be back here to live. My wife and I are the only ones from either family that has moved away. Every now and then, we get reminded of that.”