Tim Heiman

New York Mets

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May 24, 2019 - 4:16 pm
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By Joey Wahler

The opposite of Lou Gehrig, who scrapped a Columbia University engineering track and became a legend on the diamond, Tim Heiman is giving up baseball to be an engineer.

After eight-plus years as lead radio voice for the Mets Double-A team in Binghamton, NY, Heiman has transitioned from minor league baseball to working full time in mechanical engineering, which he studied in college.

“I got the best of both worlds,” said Heiman, pronounced HIGH-min. “It’s come full circle. So 21-year-old Tim Heiman would’ve said, ‘It’s major league job or bust.’ But right now, 30-year-old Tim Heiman has a much different view point on what makes him happy and what he wants to do with his life.”

After attending Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI), initially Heiman chose baseball broadcasting over engineering. Two years into his play-by-play career he became lead voice the Binghamton Mets, now called the Rumble Ponies. “Just a momentous achievement for me,” said Heiman, a Met fan from upstate New York.

Over time, however, Heiman’s priorities changed. “You get this realization of how difficult those major league jobs are to obtain, and how much everyone has to go through to put themselves in a position to get those types of jobs,” he said.

“What kept me coming back was just being able to interact with great people,” Heiman added. “Whether it was people that worked at our ballpark. Getting to interact with our great coaching staffs, our managers, and the different players you get to know. Both the guys that became stars at the big league level, and those other guys that no one knows about.”

Ballpark Digest named Heiman its 2018 Minor League Broadcaster of the Year, but “I think by that time I was already sort of thinking about what my next options were outside of baseball,” he said.

While calling Rumble Ponies games, Heiman has enjoyed an expanding role doing Binghamton University play-by-play on ESPN3 for men’s and women’s basketball, soccer, lacrosse, volleyball and wrestling.

“There are other things that might give you as much enjoyment or more enjoyment outside of baseball,” Heiman said. “I think that’s kind of where I had reached that decision where, OK, maybe it’s time for a new challenge or a new opportunity.”

With his engineering degree and college announcing to fall back on, in February Heiman interviewed for a mechanical engineering job at BAE Systems in Endicott, a Binghamton suburb. His former Binghamton general manager, Jim Weed, connected Heiman with BAE, a U.S. defense contractor in the aircraft industry. As this baseball season approached, BAE offered Heiman a position he couldn’t refuse. After helping acclimate his replacement, Jacob Wilkins, on May 1 Heiman gave up his dream job.

“It just becomes a part of you,” he said of minor league baseball’s frequent seven-day work schedule, and long overnight bus trips. “And that’s why you see so many baseball lifers. They’re used to what goes into it. It becomes part of their lifestyle. And it’s just the new normal for them.”

It’s been a hectic but exciting time for Heiman, who proposed to his fiancé, Megan, March 16. She works for Binghamton Mayor Rich David, and the couple want to stay in the area. Heiman says BAE sought someone with a technical background, communication skills and experience working with different types of people, so his baseball resume was a factor. Heiman works on BAE’s commercial side.

“My specific team ensures that the products they produce can stay in the field for as long as possible,” said Heiman, adding there are surprising similarities between his old and new professions. “You ask questions, you pick brains, you read as much as you can. So many of the things that set me up for success working in baseball have carried over to engineering.”

Aside from calling Rumble Ponies games, Heiman was Binghamton’s media relations director. Among his fondest baseball memories was working closely with outfielder Tim Tebow. Heiman recalled a post-game scene in Akron, OH, epitomizing the icon. As Binghamton boarded its bus, about 100 Tebow fans lined up behind barricades.

“He must’ve taken at least 20 minutes to sign for everybody he could,” Heiman said. “He posed for pictures with everybody. His private persona with me matched his public persona.”

These days, Heiman awakens before 6 a.m. and he’s usually home around dinner time, instead of being at a ballpark until 11 p.m. or later. Come fall, BAE will accommodate Heiman’s Binghamton University play-by-play schedule, where his basketball announcing career can still advance.

“I’m having my cake and I’m eating it too,” he said. “Where I’ve got this stability of a full-time job, I’ve got time with family and friends. And then also, I’ve got an opportunity to do D-1 sports with the university that keeps me in the broadcasting world.”

What’s the best advice Heiman can offer to others considering a career change?

“In the big picture, what makes you the most happy?” he asked. “What you enjoy and what makes you happy evolves over time. Don’t be afraid to keep reassessing your goals and what makes you happy. Because everything changes over time.”