L.A. Angels Communications/VP
To Succeed Idelson After Induction
By JIM KEVLIN • www.AllOTSEGO.com Exclusive
COOPERSTOWN – Tim Mead, who will become the seventh president of the National Baseball Hall of Fame following this year’s Induction on July 21, has been a team player in the front office at the Los Angeles Angels for four decades.
But for the Angels’ vice president/communications, team playing didn’t start there.
When young Tim was a sophomore at San Gorgonio High School in San Bernadino, he tried out for the Spartans varsity baseball team. He tried out again when he was a junior.
When he was a senior, he made the cut, but just barely. The team was waiting for a player to finish the basketball season, and when he did, Mead and another player were bumped.
He was standing out in the rain when he got the news, he remembers.
“We weren’t cut,” said Mead, “He” – Bill Havard, the JV coach who went on to coach varsity baseball at Redlands High for 40 years – “came outside. He said, ‘You can lick your wounds because you didn’t make it; or you can come down and play for me in the JVs.”
“He walked back inside,” said Mead, “and I followed him.”
On the JV team, he suffered an aneurysm in his left arm. Recuperating, he went 6 for 7 at the plate, was elevated to varsity, playing first base and left field, and he lettered. “I was very proud of that,” he remembers all these years later.
His take-away. “You’re responsible for your own happiness,” he said. “The world won’t stop for you because of your feelings. You have to continue to pursue your dreams, regardless of what the obstacles are.”
By then, baseball had been part of Mead’s life since Little League – he first team was the Arlington, Va., Kiwanis – and he realized his future in the game wouldn’t be on the field. At Cal Poly in Pomona, he worked for the sports information office and was sports editor of the college newspaper, covering the college’s 1980 national champion team.
There, he also came under the sway of another influential coach. John Scolinos, who became nationally known for his speech, “17 Inches,” the width of home plate.
“What would you do if your best player consistently showed up late for practice?” according to one version of Scolinos’ speech. “Or if your team rules forbid facial hair and your players starting showing up on game days unshaven? What about if one of your players got caught drinking after hours the night before a game?”
His point, as Mead interpreted it: You have to set standards and enforce them. He calls Scolinos, who died in 2016 at age 93, “the John Wooden of Division II.”
It took Jeff Idelson, who is retiring after this year’s Induction, several years to break into the Majors, first as an intern for the Red Sox, then in the Yankees PR department. By contrast, Mead transition to the pros was fairly straightfoward, almost providential.
He won an unpaid, year-long internship with the famed singing cowboy Gene Autry’s Anaheim Angels just out of college. That next January, he married wife Carole and was advised to get a job in the “real world.”
But a contact on the team called him when an Angels’ administrative assistant job opened up, and within a couple of weeks, he was recruited away by the team’s communications office at a $1,500 raise to a princely $10,000.
He would remain there until today, the last 22 years as vice president/communications.
Idelson only announced his retirement on Feb. 9, and it turns out he and Mead have known each other for years, going back to Jeff days as the Hall’s director of communications.
Mead said that, while he had seen and heard Hall of Fame chair Jane Forbes Clark at Inductions and MLB gatherings in the past and had been impressed, he hadn’t spent any time with her until a 2½-hour conversation that led to his new job.
He called his new boss “an amazing lady” and “almost Autry-esque,” a reference to the level-headed family that owned the Angels for much of his tenure.
In announcing Mead’s appointment, Jane Clark noted he is “deeply respected” in the business by “players, executives and media alike.” The incoming president praised those same qualities in Jeff Idelson.
For now, Mead won’t be looking to buy a house locally. With a 6-month-old grandson, Logan, living near his and wife Carol’s Anaheim home, Tim plans to fly back and forth as doable. (The Meads’ son Brandon is a lawyer in Century City, and he, wife Ashley and Logan live in Orange County.)
Mead, 61, was asked how long he expects to serve at the Hall, and said he plans to work as he always has, giving his all one day, then the next. “My goal is to give my absolute best, and work hard each and every day with the tremendous team of folks in Cooperstown,” he said.
Meanwhile, Googling Tim Mead’s record and reading the accolades his appointment has garnered in the industry – “The Baseball Hall of Fame could not have named a better person,” tweeted Hall of Famer Bert Blyleven – his tenure at Anaheim seems exceptionally untroubled, the biggest controversy being when the team changed is title from “Anaheim” to “Los Angeles.”
How he handled the name change suggests an approach to problem-solving that would work anywhere.
“Along the process,” he recalled. “I felt the need to embrace the reality that many people were not going to be accepting of it, and to get out in front of it, to let people deal with it.
“This too shall pass eventually,” he said to himself. “Everything does.”