By CHARLIE VASCELLARO • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
It came as a surprise to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum and the baseball community at large when Tim Mead stepped down from his position as President of the Hall of Fame after less than two years on the job.
What would seem to be the dream job for almost anyone who works in the baseball industry was never fully realized for Mead whose brief tenure coincided with the onset of the coronavirus pandemic and was marred by the unprecedented passing of 10 members of the Hall of Fame in about a year.
“What Dale and Jeff (former presidents Petrosky and Idelson, respectively) had been able to accomplish in terms of the travel and all, obviously we had 10 Hall of Famers pass away and we weren’t able to attend those services, the only one I was able to go to was Whitey Ford’s mass and Jeff was able to fly in from San Francisco for that one,” Mead said in an interview before his departure from the Hall on May 15.
With the 2021 baseball season underway and the Hall of Fame announcing its decision to hold this year’s induction ceremony indoors in a custom-made television studio*, and without fans in attendance, Mead announced his decision to step down from his post on April 16.
“It’s particularly tough with family being back (in California),” he said. “I have a grandson that is 30 months old and a granddaughter coming in September. That aspect of things has been a bit more challenging than perhaps I allowed myself to believe it would be.
Mead was hired to replace Idelson in June of 2019, presiding over the Hall of Fame’s 2019 Induction and represented the Hall of Fame at the Major League All-Star game in Cleveland.
Entering his second year as president and first full baseball season in 2020, Mead took a group of sponsors on a spring training trip to Arizona’s Cactus League in March and was there when the pandemic forced the cancellation of the spring training season and postponement of the regular season until July.
Mead said he returned to his California residence when the Hall was shut down at the outset of the pandemic and remained there from March through the end of May. He was back at his office when the Hall reopened June 26.
He said he also returned to California this year, from January to April.
“It was long, but you make those adjustments,” Mead said. “The hardest part was not being able to get into the flow of the job,
Mead’s two-year stint as president coincided with perhaps the two most tumultuous seasons in Major League Baseball’s history and the impact on the Hall and Cooperstown was like nothing anyone at the Hall has experienced.
“But all of that aside, said Mead, “it has been a fantastic experience. It is an honor and a blessing and privilege to have worked at the Hall of Fame – that’s the way I look at it.”
Mead is the seventh president in the 82-year history of the Hall of Fame, following in the paths of Stephen C. Clark, founder of the Hall of Fame and grandfather of Hall Chair Jane Forbes Clark. Paul Kerr, Edward W. Stack, Donald C Marr Jr., Dale Petrosky and Jeff Idelson followed Clark.
Idelson took over as an interim president to replace Mead, too, a stint that began Saturday, May 15.
Mead said he walks away with distinct memories about what it felt like to be in his position and to work at the Hall.
“When you walk in that plaque gallery or even when I’m alone and I walk past certain exhibits … you know where you’re at, and you know what you’re looking at and out of the respect we have for the game reverence is a big part of it for me,” Mead said.
“It’s almost like walking on a baseball field when you work for a club. If you ever took that for granted it’s time to look for something else. If you walk through the plaque gallery and you don’t feel that reverence and you’re not inspired or awed then I would suggest you might consider something else as well,” he said.
Above all else Mead says the job provided a tremendous learning experience and deeper understanding of the passion and reverence for the game.
“I learned a lot about myself…
I worked with some brilliant people, some very devoted passionate people at the Hall that take baseball to even deeper levels. It is really an honor to have established relationships and friendships with many of them,” said Mead.
- An earlier version of this story said the induction would take place in the Hall’s Plaque Gallery.