October used to be pretty predictable for Tim Mead, the Anaheim Angels vice president of communications. With the team done for the year, his 14-hour days would be over. The phones would have stopped ringing. He could leave the office for lunch.
This October is just a little different.
For the first time in 16 years the team is in the playoffs and, for the first time ever, the Angels have advanced beyond the first round of postseason play to have a real shot at winning it all.
That makes the Angels the hottest ticket in town. Movie stars are scrambling for seats. Reporters from as far as Puerto Rico, Ecuador and Japan want credentials.
Mead, 44, and his small staff are at the center of it all. "It's about us, not me," he says. Moving quicker than a Troy Percival fastball, he is the man who gets things done.
His mornings start with no schedule.
"You come in here with projects, but the phone and the people and the e-mail dictate what we do," Mead said.
This is Friday, the day of the team's first home game in its series against the Minnesota Twins. He's busy--the phone is ringing in the background, the e-mail alert keeps dinging, people are hovering outside his office--but he takes time to chat with each of them: "It's great for this area. It's great for this fan base. It's a great story line."
The minutes play out in a series of crises that arise and are resolved in hurried conversations. It's not easy for an outsider to even understand the problem before it appears to go away.
11:09 a.m. -- Administrative assistant Trish Pene rushes into his office. "Did we order food for Percival and Anderson last time?" she asks.
He's not sure.
Mead turns to his trusty hand-held computer--"lose that and I'd be in a world of hurt"--and sifts through about 1,400 numbers. He picks up the phone and dials.
"Troy? Mr. Mead here. No, nothing's wrong. Nothing's going on. Does Michelle want food service in the suite? OK. See you here."
11:40 a.m. -- He doles out baseballs autographed by Tim Salmon and Garret Anderson that are kept under lock and key. Community Relations Director Matt Bennett needs them for a high school fund-raiser. The Angels are hot. The baseball supply is low. "You know what? Both Troys will sign more," Mead tells Bennett, referring to Percival and third baseman Troy Glaus.
11:52 a.m. -- Associated Press is looking for celebrities who will be attending the games. Mead asks around. One of his deputies, Nancy Mazmanian, mentions a few. Fred Durst of Limp Bizkit. Matt LeBlanc. Pierce Brosnan.
Mead, a Cal Poly Pomona grad who lives in Diamond Bar with his wife and son, started with the Angels as a public relations intern in 1980, when he answered phones, stuffed envelopes and photocopied lineups before rising through the ranks in the team's front office. Now he and his colleagues are having a season they used to just dream about.
Amid the problems and the answers on Friday, he takes time out to leave a message with a friend at the San Francisco Giants, assistant general manager Ned Colletti, whose team is also in the playoffs.
"I just wanted to congratulate you on getting off to a 2-0 start. Slow down and let us catch up here."
He can't help adding: "We'll see you next week."
A little later, just after noon, Mead walks to the ticket office. He strides through the stadium and waves, it seems, at every fifth person. He knows each by name. "If I walk too fast, I'm sorry," Mead said. He doesn't slow down.
The pace continues throughout the day. He sets up interviews for Manager Mike Scioscia. Meets with the networks to finalize broadcast plans. Fields questions from reporters.
An hour before game time, he greets Hall of Famer Rod Carew, who played for the Angels and Twins. Carew threw out the first pitch Friday night.
"Ready? Loose?" he asks Carew. They have 59 minutes.
He ushers Carew to a holding room after being approached by a reporter in the elevator and another in the hallway. Carew wants to sit tight.
Mead leaves to find a new baseball for Carew. He chats with Jose Molina, preps him for catching the first pitch. He plays conspirator with bench coach Joe Maddon, who corrals Mead and demands to know, "Is he here? Where is he?"
They find Carew, drag him to the dugout. The players love him. He gives them a pep talk, high fives and hugs. Mead smiles.
"What's really great is the connection between this team and the past," Mead said. "Former players are pulling for this team. It's awesome."
Mead looks nervously at his watch. "Where are they?" he said. A few seconds later, four military aircraft fly over Edison International Field.
Carew throws out the first pitch with perfect form. The crowd cheers.
The game starts, and still, there is no rest for Mead. He drops by the luxury suite, says hi to the top brass. Wait, they ask, can you walk Kevin Costner's wife to her car?
He takes her down back staircases, through the stadium maze, out the gates and into the jammed parking lot to retrieve something from her car. Another problem solved.
Hours later, long after the last out is made, Mead heads to the parking lot again. This time it's empty.
He skips the post-game party. His bed seems more inviting.
The workday is over 14 hours after it began. Reporters have filed their stories for the night.
Life is good. The Angels are up.
"Sleep?" Mead asks. "We'll sleep in November."