Cupie sat down with Tim Mead, Angels Vice President of Communications, last week. Tim was generous with his time and discussed the Angels of the past, present and future. Having worked for the franchise since 1980, he is able to give Halos Heaven readers a unique and historical perspective on the club.
Cupie for Halos Heaven: Tim, you've been here for all three Angel owners - Gene Autry, The Disney Corporation and Arte Moreno. What stands out about each of them?
Tim Mead: I think the philosophies have changed as the game has changed. What worked for the Autrys--it was probably towards the end of baseball just being pure baseball, from the standpoint that the general manager was just a general manager. We didn't have club presidents. We didn't have big marketing departments. When I started here in 1980, we were probably 35 people. In 1982 we drew 2.8 million people. But there weren't accounting execs and all the different things. The focus was all baseball. Neither one is better or worse than the other.
How things evolved--obviously Mr. Autry passed on. We were reaching a time where it was very difficult to have an individual owner run the club, and financially it was getting tougher. We were purchased by Disney. Disney's greatest contribution was allowing the payroll to go up as baseball changed. And then the renovation of this ballpark. Disney tried to bring a lot of the business and entertainment aspect to it. I think what made it difficult for Disney was they were looking at the team in its entertainment empire. The buzzword was always synergy. Some of that synergy worked. Some of it didn't. It was a constant learning curve. By 2001, 2002, at the time they were trying to sell us, it was mastered, but it was just too late in the program. They lost over $100 million during the time they owned us.
Then Arte Moreno came in. Arte is a shrewd businessman, a tremendous businessman. Arte's belief--and that goes back to the name change--is that we are a big market club. We are in the second biggest media market in the country. You have to conduct yourselves like that. And people like to say that our success is now because of 2002. We were 19 games out in '03. Free agents were kind of entertained [as a solution]. More attention was paid towards what the minor leagues and scouting could do.
Before Arte, Bill Stoneman really brought in a program. That all started when Bill hired Mike Scioscia. So there was a continuity. Arte believes in stability. I think that at the end of the Autry regime we lost some of that stability. Certainly, during the Disney regime the turnover rate from front office people, to some decisions that were made, and then restrictions put on the ball club continued the lack of stability. Arte came in, and everybody was on the same page. Owner, general manager, and manager--all on the same page. And that just doesn't happen too often. I think what Arte has done is let the fans fall in love all over again with the Angels. From the front office, the team on the field, the stadium experience, even the red--we have our team, our family. And that was what the Autrys were. The Autrys were a family. Disney was a bit more business. And now we're back with family.
Everyone has their plusses. But I believe that a baseball club needs to be run by an individual, because the public wants to have a face. For the good and for the bad. Just like right now. We've had our ebb and flow. 5-1, and then we had that 1-7 road trip.
Halos Heaven: One thing I have been excited about since Arte has come on board is seeing some the Angel alumni back at the stadium. It is so great to see my childhood heroes walking around the stadium.
Tim Mead: Arte has been very supportive of it. In the past, we didn't quite receive the same support. Some people wanted to look at the present and the future. And Arte, from the business standpoint, is very focused on the present and the future but is very respectful of the past. He sees the importance of the past being part of your present and future.
HH: Was it ever discussed to honor the 25th anniversary of the 1982 Angels this season? That was a very exciting team, they won the division and were a few outs from going to the World Series.
Tim Mead: Actually, we are going to acknowledge them by having some them come back periodically. But we do so much with our former players now. This was actually discussed, if we were going to do a patch or acknowledge them on opening day, but nothing got planned or organized. But a lot of these players will be back individually, throwing out a first pitch or at the Alumni Weekend in August. We want to start inductions into the Angels Hall of Fame again. We want to have a golf tournament and a dinner. It is a program that continues to build.
HH: Growing up, I recall regular "Oldtimers Day" promotions that featured three-inning games taking place before the day's scheduled games. They're gone now, not just at Angels Stadium, but it seems everywhere - what happened?
Tim Mead: Those Old Timers Days, they were sponsored by someone like Upper Deck. And it would be a traveling Old Timers Game. It would be Angels old timers versus the traveling MLB old timers. So that sponsorship program is no longer in place anymore.
HH: Is Tim Salmon's number being considered for retirement?
Tim Mead: It will be at some point. We have a criteria that we have established for both our Hall of Fame and retired numbers. At spring training, we had a dinner with some people from the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. One of the things they talked about is there is a reason for the waiting period--that they even have--and they always advise the clubs to do it, because what you want to do is to take the emotion out of it and look. We have a list of all the retired numbers, and you look at most retired numbers--a large percentage are Cooperstown-bound or already in there. Or considered for Cooperstown. To me, Tim was the face of the Angels. I have always referred to him as Mr. Angel. But we have to put it in a big perspective. It is a topic that will be discussed moving forward, but there was not an immediate call for it this year, simply because we strongly believe even if he was a hall of fame lock right now, you still need to wait for some time. Because if Cooperstown can wait, we certainly can wait.
TOMORROW... in Part Two, Tim discusses the new red jerseys, the club's response to entrepeneurial season seat holders and much, much more.