Obrey Brown sent a text out to Major League Baseball’s Hall of Fame president on a Monday morning in July.
“Obrey here from Highland if you have a quick minute,” he wrote.
It was one day after Hall of Fame inductions were set for Cooperstown. Shut down for COVID-19. No inductions. No ceremonies. Sadness all around.
Wondered what it was like to see that weekend shut down. It’s why Obrey wanted to chat.
Just imagine what Tim Mead, the second-year president of baseball’s exclusive Hall of Fame, must go through on a daily basis.
Phone calls probably come in from everywhere.
Jane Forbes, who’s the chairman of baseball’s Hall of Fame.
Occasional fans with questions.
Occasional fans with requests.
Occasional fans with suggestions.
Rob Manfred, when he’s not battling with wealthy players in between calls from his wealthy owners, might check in occasionally. He’s MLB commissioner.
Hall of Famers like Johnny Bench or Ken Griffey Jr. or Pedro Martinez probably get right through.
Those guys are the elite.
Tim just chuckled. “Yes,” he said. “I take a lot of those calls.”
Tim has a legion of followers, ranging from lifetime best friend Don Parnell to their onetime San Gorgonio High School coach Bill Havard to a stadium full of people during his career.
Forty years with the Angels. That’s the Nolan Ryan years through the Gene Mauch disappointments of 1982 and 1986. It went up through the Mike Scioscia era in 2002 right up through Mike Trout’s early years.
“Everything is a learning experience,” said Tim, who’s sitting on a treasure trove of baseball memorabilia that might not ever be on display. It’s stuffed away in the vault.
Obrey would love to see Tim’s personal trophy room.
Except he’s got a real trophy room to preside over in Cooperstown.
Those San G years were a couple lifetimes ago.
Parnell said, “Tim and I had classes together. We took our dates together to the prom.”
That Monday, Tim couldn’t connect with Obrey, though. For a place this big, he’s probably got to compile a daily to-do list. Besides, it was one day after what should have been induction Sunday. Probably lots to talk about.
A day after that, though: “Tim Mead Hall of Fame” appeared on Obrey’s cell phone ID. Obrey, in the middle of another call on behalf of this newspaper, couldn’t take it.
Yes, Tim’s a priority call, but sometimes Obrey must use his best judgement.
“Sorry I missed your call,” Obrey texted back a few minutes later. “Do you have time now?”
Obrey refuses to call, preferring to text first, fearing he might interrupt something important.
“Give ’em a chance to get clear, I always say,” he said. “They can call when it’s convenient for them.”
Forty-five minutes later, “Tim Mead Hall of Fame” showed up again on Obrey’s cell phone.
Sometimes, when you least expect it. Right?
Obrey was at lunch in the city of Walnut. He had a pen. No notepad, though. There were some napkins. But a metal table with decorative holes spaced about an inch apart.
Damn, he thought. How can I take notes? This will be tough. Every third letter fell into one of those table’s holes. Notes would be tough.
Obrey answered. Tim enthusiastically greeted him.
“First question: Anyone from your home area show up at the Hall of Fame?”
Tim said, “Haven’t seen anyone.”
Those from his old neighborhoods from either Colwyn Street or Hibiscus Street, have yet to hit Cooperstown for their vacation — yet.
There was a genial conversation.
For baseball fans, Cooperstown’s museum is a sacred place.
It’s history, says Tim, perhaps same as the Smithsonian, the Getty or the Louvre. It’s a place to pay respect, to check baseball history and, perhaps, relive some nostalgic moments.
“We’ve been shut down for 102 days,” Tim said, “but no, I haven’t seen anyone.”
Shut down? Obrey didn’t ask why.