Bill Haase doesn’t like the word retirement.
“I guess that’s what they will call it, retire, in a sense,” he said despite his employer, the National Baseball Hall of Fame, using exactly that word earlier in the day as Hasse, senior vice president, announced that he was stepping down after 13 years at the Hall.
Haase said that he intended to be able to make a difference on his timetable, in particular with youth baseball.
“I’ve been fortunate to be a part of this game for such a long time, but to me, you are only really successful if you are able to give back,” said Haase who spent 18 years with the Detroit Tigers from 1975-1992 before joining the HOF. “I’ll just be a little more independent in how I can do that.”
A Vietnam veteran who got an accounting degree from Western Michigan University, Haase spent his final nine years with the Tigers as executive vice president and chief operating officer.
Haase, who is president of the Cooperstown Veteran’s Club and has been involved with American Legion, said he will do whatever he can to stay in touch with the game and with Cooperstown after he leaves the HOF at the end of the year. He and his wife, Sandy, will split time between Michigan and Cooperstown.
“To me it is all about the people that you meet on the road of life,” he said. “You don’t just leave those bonds behind.”
The Tigers were awful when Haase arrived but in 1984, Detroit led wire-to-wire and won the World Series in five games over San Diego.
“I guess I look at it as a real Cinderella story,” he said. “We were 35-5 out of the gate, we led wire to wire and we swept Kansas City in three games and beat San Diego in five games.
“What makes it better is, in 1975, we lost 102 games,” he continued. “So to be a part of an organization to build a championship team is something that dreams are made of.”
Wherever he goes, Haase said he likes to share his World Series ring.
“I wear it every day,” Haase said. “I don’t wear it to be flashy. I do wear it to share it with people. When I take it off and let people see it, I am always amazed. People take pictures with it. They try it on. It isn’t something everyone gets to do every day, but they can’t do it if I just have the ring in a safety deposit box.”
The Hall of Fame hasn’t had as sharp a rise as the Tigers during Haase’s tenure in Cooperstown, but he said he is pleased with the Hall today.
“I feel I have had a positive impact here,” Haase said. “I feel very grateful to think that my tenure here has made this a better place and also made me a better person.
“I think I will miss the people the most,” Haase said of his co-workers.
When the calendar reads 2014, Haase said he will still be working, just not for a living.
“You reach a point where mortality is real and there are some other things you want to accomplish before the end of the road,” he said.