Interview with Tim Mead, President of the Hall of Fame

After the overwhelming positive response to our last interview, we thought it would be fun to reach out to another big name in the baseball world! On behalf of The Bullpen, I’m excited to share this exclusive interview I conducted with Tim Mead, President of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum! We chatted about the Hall of Fame, his former work with the Los Angeles Angels, and many more great topics. Here’s how our conversation went:

I know that before becoming president of the Hall of Fame, you worked with the Angels for 40 years. What was it like to work for their organization?

 “It was the opportunity and the privilege of a lifetime, much like going to Cooperstown is now. The Angels were my team growing up, it was the opportunity and career that I never thought I would ever leave under any circumstances what-so-ever. I feel like I almost went from elementary school through a Master’s degree of education while working with the Angels. I learned so much from so many people and had so many experiences, that I grew professionally and personally. I had great mentors along the way, and situations and scenarios that taught me how to handle and how to respond to things. I got to see the evolutions of communications and media relations along the way as well, which helped me understand the needs of people, understand what players need, what media needs, what the fans interactions are, and what the front office people need. Being in communications at the club level is like being a jack of all trades and a master of none, but we were the master of being a jack of all trades.”

TM

How do you feel about the Joe Maddon hire for the Angels? 

“I think it was the only situation for changing the scenario with Brad Ausmus. The last direction to go was Joe Maddon, to me as long as Arte Moreno has been there, and the history with Joe and the positivity. If a change was going to be made, that was his only option.”

TM

I recently wrote an article about an all-time Angels team on our site. I’m curious, who do you think should be on that team?

“The team figured out in the time that I was there, that I went through 748 players. It is so hard, to say the best at the position would be hard, but obviously you’ve got Trout, Chuck Finley, Jim Abbott, Gary DiSarcina, Darin Erstad, Percival, Salmon, and Garret. Not because they won, because of the people they were. A lot of the things I make my decisions on are based on who they are as people too, like Torii Hunter. We just had so many good people. The coaches like Dino, Micky Hatcher, Ron Roenicke, going back to Deron Johnson as a hitting coach, Marcel Lachemann’s … Scott Spiezio, these guys became lifetime friends, and Scot Shields too. Its not begging the question, it’s that there are so many for different reasons, that I guess I am fortunate to look at them as a group. I could never answer the question who my all-time very Angel is because there would be many of them for different reasons in the same heading. I just came to respect them much more as people than as players, and for different reasons. Who they are as people, how they treat other people, how they interacted with front-office people, ushers, or security people. I had this thing where I thought how would that player be when the uniform is off, post career. Most of those guys, including Bobby Grich and Brian Downing, most of those guys I described are going to be great, or have been great post career.” 

TM

How has the transition been working for the Hall of Fame, any new challenges?

The challenges have been very much on the personal side, living in California, and working in New York. Leaving behind, professionally, my second family and the missing of my family on a regular basis. I took this job with their support to do it. I do miss people in the community and my colleagues, but I thoroughly enjoy what I am doing. It used to feel like you could fall out of bed and know how to handle or do something, not that you had all the answers, but for me it is kind of like going back to school a little bit. I’m not “the expert” in the new role and I have to learn it, and I am working with some solid people who have been patient, teaching, and wonderful to work with. When you stand in that gallery and you realize the history and what that institution means, it gives you a quite a bit of a chill.”

TM

How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected the Hall?

“As far as the pandemic goes, the Hall is normally closed three days a year, and that’s it. So, to close the doors on consecutive days is very, very difficult. To cancel the induction ceremonies for July, for the first time since 1960, is very difficult as well. At the same time, I think what is important, is that is serves no purpose to complain about it or be upset about it because we are all in the same boat. I just choose to look at it that way, and in 2021 we are going to put on a tremendous induction ceremony, and we will have a few extra months to work on it. We look forward to our focus now, which is those doors opening up again and welcoming the guests to Cooperstown, make sure we have made all the adjustments inside the Hall for the safety measures recommended by the government and the health officials. Also, starting to adhere to our new normal…”

TM

Are there any kind of initiatives that you would like to see the Hall of Fame implement in your time there, such as what the Little League World Series is doing with their game being played there, or the new Field of Dreams series that was supposed to start this year?

“There used to be a Hall of Fame game, and we someday would like to see that come back to Doubleday Field if that’s a possibility. I think on a regular basis, probably try to look at some exhibits that are more temporary exhibits, and flip somethings around that could draw people in as it will only be on exhibit for a short time, like 3 months, so there is a sense of urgency to be there. The thing we really want to do is to continue to work closer with Major League Baseball on some initiatives and branding. Also making today’s players more connected with Cooperstown. We had a program in place that we started in Spring Training of giving every active player, with at least one day of service, a lifetime pass. We started that in the Cactus League before everything got shut down, so we will pick that one up when we start and kind of restructure that. It is to let the player know that you can be in the Hall of Fame without having a plaque. Everybody has a chance to something monumental or historical, and we may knock on the door to have something from your memorable game in the same institution with artifacts from Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig.”

TM

How do you feel about the steroid era players and their chances of getting into the Hall of Fame?

“Ultimately, right now, that’s going to be the decision of the Baseball Writers Association of America because they are still on that ballot. One of the things that the Baseball Hall of Fame does, is not to filter history, it is to present history and facts of the history and not to pass judgement. There are references to the steroid era, there are artifacts from Pete Rose in the Hall of Fame, and the players mentioned in the Mitchell Report. If the steroid era players aren’t elected by the BBWAA, then it would be passed along to the Veterans committee process and that will be another discussion. It will be interesting to see how time takes care of it, because things do change and adjust.”

TM

I’m sure this question comes up all the time, but is there any way that we could ever see Pete Rose getting into the Hall of Fame, and is it up to him at this point?

“No not really, it is up to the commissioner. Pete Rose is on the ineligible list, and the difference is that as long as someone is on the ineligible list, they are not eligible for election into the Hall of Fame. In terms of Joe Jackson, the debate was that he has passed away. Well when you are on the ineligible list in baseball, the reason for that list is that it precludes you from working in a game. That’s the consequence of being on that list. But the consequence in Cooperstown is being up for election into the Hall of Fame, so that is a permanent for us, unless Major League Baseball were to say they would remove him from the status of ineligible … but as long as Pete is on that list then that is where it remains. For now, he is still viewed by Major League Baseball on the ineligible list and he cannot get a job in baseball in uniform. It’s not a separate policy it is just how the policy crosses over between Major League Baseball and the Hall of Fame.”

TM

Do you think we could see any kind of Hall of Fame bans or even less potential voting for the Astros or Red Sox from the sign stealing scandal?

“That will be something that once they retire, whomever it may be individually, they will go through their ten years of BBWAA voting if they are eligible. Also if they play their ten years in the Major Leagues to be eligible for Hall of Fame consideration. That will first be up to the writers to go through that process, and certainly there will be a lot of conversation and discussion of how people feel. You have to get into the perception … that there were new individual punishments doled out so it will be a lot of speculation and conversation but that’s really all it will be.”

TM

I would like to thank Tim Mead for taking the time out of his day to sit down and interview with me. I wish him all the best with the Hall of Fame, and I believe the Hall of Fame is in great hands with Tim as its President! For more content like this, stay connected with us on Instagram (@thebullpen_) and Twitter (@TheBullpen12).

Photo Credit to Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images

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