Tim Mead New HoF President
By JIM KEVLIN • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
COOPERSTOWN – Tim Mead is anything if not approachable.
Walking by that display board of standings in front of the Hall of Fame the other day, Glendaly Garcia of Hartford, Conn., called out to the new president of Baseball’s Mecca: “Can you take our photo?”
Unhesitatingly, he did, then posed with the family, now thrilled at meeting the man who holds one of the highest-profile jobs in the National Pastime.
That kind of personal touch is important, the Garcias can tell you: A decade ago, dad Luis was diagnosed with cancer, and the family brought him to Cooperstown to fulfill a lifelong dream. He recovered, and a month ago was diagnosed with brain cancer.
Meeting Tim Mead made their visit that much more special.
For now, the former long-time vice president/communications at the Los Angeles Angels, who started his new job June 24, is focused internally, he said in an interview leading up to Induction Weekend.
Spending much of his time so far getting to know the organization at 25 Main St. and, in particular, the people who run it, he’s concluded, “Four weeks in, you know you’re around some special people.”
His predecessor, Jeff Idelson, who held the job for 11 years, left him with a well-run operation, judging from his description of the Hall’s internal workings: The administrators, curators and staff there are intensely interested and focused on the task at hand.
Some new presidents of sizeable organizations – the presidents of SUNY Oneonta and Hartwick, for instance – immediately begin strategic-planning processes when they arrive on the job.
Mead’s taking a different approach: He said he’s impressed by the focus in a weekly meeting of the Hall’s top administrators, where strategic discussions, planning and allocation of responsibilities are already taking place.
For now, that’s enough: “Ultimately, you have to learn the system before you adjust and tinker with it,” he said.
The initial assessment in the community to his arrival has been good.
“He’s a very personable individual,” said Mayor Ellen Tillapaugh Kuch. “I find him very engaging.”
Her predecessor, Jeff Katz, a baseball writer and Friends of Doubleday Field president, said Mead’s familiarity with the MLB community – the hierarchy and the players – from his decades at Anaheim, is necessary to lead the Hall.
Given the growing ties in recent years between the MLB and the Hall, “you can’t bring in someone from outside that world.”
While Dale Petroskey (1999-2008) was credited with increasing the care and tending of Hall of Famers, Idelson (2008-2019) was of that world, Katz said, coming to the Hall from a top job with the New York Yankees, and spending nine years as vice president/communications before being elevated to the top job.
He predicted Tim Mead will fill that role of ambassador to the Major Leagues well. “I wish him all the best,” Katz said.
A native of Athens, Greece, Mead was raised in southern California, graduating in 1980 from Cal Poly in Pomona. He soon joined the Angels, playing various administrative roles, including vice president/communications for past 22.
For now, he will continue to maintain his home on the West Coast – son Brandon’s wife has just had their first grandchildren, and wife Carole wants to remain nearby – and is staying at the Clark Sports Center director’s former residence on Susquehanna Avenue.
As he gets comfortable with his new responsibilities, his first month hasn’t been uneventful, even beyond being in charge of an Induction Weekend for the first time.
He joined MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred (of Rome, the one in Oneida County) as the Red Sox played the Yankees at London Stadium, the first series of a two-year agreement to help familiarize the English with the U.S. National Pastime.
And he represented the Hall at the All-Star Game July 9 in Cleveland.
Asked what visiting fans should be sure to see this weekend in the Hall Fame – beyond the Hall of Plaques – he quickly answered, “the holy grail” – “Shoebox Memories,” the new exhibit that features the best and rarest of baseball cards from the Hall’s collection of 200,000.
“That’s where it all begins,” he said.