Tim Wiles is leaving the Baseball Hall of Fame, but the Mighty Casey will strike out again in Cooperstown.
Wiles, the Director of Research at the HOF, has played Casey, from the Ernest Thayer poem “Casey at the Bat,” for the hall of fame since 1996.
On Jan. 17 he will step down to become the director of the Guilderland Public Library.
“This is the 20th calendar year in which I’ve worked (for the hall),” said Wiles. “It’s certainly a bittersweet departure.”
Wiles started at the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1990 as an intern. He was hired in 1995, and has worked in as Director of Research ever since, although not always under that title.
Wiles said that he came to play Casey in part because the U.S. Postal Service issued a commemorative stamp depicting Casey. At the time, then Cooperstown Post Office Employee “Stretch” Redding used to dress up as people portrayed on commemorative stamps. Redding was unable to dress up as Casey for the stamp’s issuance ceremony, so then Cooperstown Postmaster Connie Tedesco called up the Hall of Fame to see if they had anyone who would be willing to do it.
“My theory was that I was the newest staff member,” said Wiles, on why he was selected to play the part.
When Wiles first dressed up as the character, on July 12, 1996, however, there was a very good reaction.
“There were lots and lots of families who wanted to pose for pictures with Casey,” said Wiles.
Soon Wiles was regularly dressing up as Casey for Hall of Fame events, and members of the public were asking him to start performing the poem.
He first did so in the fall of 1997 at the New York State Fair, when he performed “Casey At The Bat,” in front of an audience that included then Gov. George Pataki and then New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani.