At Home with Tim Salmon
When life gets hectic, the once and always Angel and his family head to their beach getaway
“Come on in,” says an Angel with a friendly wave of his hand, motioning to follow him to where his four-story house’s garage door is opened to a narrow Newport Beach street, free of cars and the hustle of beachgoers on this cool morning. He fusses with the cuffs of his dress shirt as he winds past a sleek Mercedes-Benz sports coupe and a couple of beach cruisers. “Marci’s not ready yet. She’s still upstairs getting dressed,” he offers – a detail any wife might not be thrilled to have her husband confess to a complete stranger.
But it’s hard for anybody to feel like a stranger in the company of Tim and Marci Salmon. His bright blue eyes, easy smile and towering height are familiar to anyone who loves major league baseball – and to Angels fans in particular. The right fielder spent his entire MLB career with the team, from his 1992 rookie season to his last at-bat in 2006. Fans adored – still adore – Salmon, affectionately nicknaming him “Mr. Angel” and “King Fish,” who most notably helped the team clinch the World Series in 2002.
Salmon still hasn’t said adios to the Angels, continuing his ties to the team as a TV analyst for Fox Sports West – despite the fact that he and Marci count their Scottsdale, Arizona, home as their main residence and juggle family obligations, business dealings, a nonprofit foundation and participation on many boards for church, school and their kids’ sports teams. Their two eldest, Callie, 22, and Jacob, 18, are off at college, while twins Ryan and Katelyn just turned 16.
“Life in Scottsdale is drastically different,” says Marci, who has emerged from the third-floor master suite lipsticked and smiling. “It’s early mornings, late nights, practices, homework, getting kids to their games.”
“Both our kids are playing soccer right now, but our kids play every sport that is in season, so they go from football to soccer to softball or baseball or track, so there is always something after school,” pipes in Tim, who has been the coach of many of the kids’ teams. “When it was all four kids at home it was really chaotic. Now that the oldest two are out, it’s kind of getting a little better.”
The cure for the daily grind of Arizona life is here, at the cozy, Cape Cod-inspired summer house they keep in Newport, the beach their backyard. For Marci it was love at first sight: “When I walked in here, I said ‘This is all perfection, I don’t want to change anything.’ Being a vacation home, we enjoy the decor, the colors and the style.”
How much are they here? “Not enough,” Tim says with a laugh. “We pop in and out here during the wintertime, but to be honest with you, most of the time during winter months it is family or friends who come out and visit.” The split-level floor plan, with a duplicate kitchen and three bedrooms on the ground floor, makes it ideal for sharing.
Lately, though, the couple have been back and forth a lot more, displaced while their 9,000-square-foot Southwest-style home in Scottsdale undergoes a major remodel. “We tore the house apart. The main floor is 6,500, and we went down to the studs on probably 3,500 of that to make it more updated and contemporary. We completely redid the living room, family room, dining room, kitchen, foyer, garage, patio.” Tim ticks off the list with his fingers.
Adds Marci: “All of our bedrooms are on one side of the house, so we put a temporary door up and we just live on one side, the laundry room is my kitchen – six months’ worth!”
In Newport, Tim and his kids enjoy surfing – he picked up the longboard when he retired – and the family enjoys biking. Most mornings you can find the Salmons at their favorite breakfast spot, Alta, what Tim calls their “Bohemian hole-in-the-wall.” Amelia’s on Balboa Island is another much-loved eatery, as is the Cannery. The couple can also often be found spending time on McFish, the Duffy electric boat they co-own with friends, McDonald’s franchise owners.
But the house itself is the big draw. “My favorite time is in the morning when we get our coffee and have breakfast out on the deck, just watching the beach come to life in the morning,” he says. “I do work quite a bit when the team is home in the summer, so the days I have to get ready at 2:30 and leave for the office (that’s Angel Stadium) – as much as I hate to complain about this, I think, ‘Man I’m leaving just when it’s a great time to be at the beach!’”
The beach has always been special to Tim, who spent much of his early childhood in the Belmont Shore section of Long Beach. “I can remember summers getting up at the break of dawn and being on the beach until the sun went down. Roaming throughout the neighborhood, looking for things to do. I had so much fun.”
It’s easy to guess that for a kid like him, owning a roomy, elegant beach house is part of the joy of “making it” as a pro athlete. Tim smiles.
“There are different stages of making it, I think every athlete would tell you that. There was that stage in the minor leagues when I get called to the big leagues and I get $600 meal money. They gave me $600 cash, and I’m going, ‘I’m rich!’ – because in the minor leagues you made $750 a month and you paid rent with that. The initial stages of getting into the big leagues is just like a kid in a candy store. Wow, there is so much at your disposal,” he says. “But here’s the thing – in my day and age, the salaries were awesome, but you compare it to today …”
Tim lets the sentence trail off as he shakes his head, relaxing back onto the blue couch with a limitless vista of ocean and sky. “We used to think, ‘Wow, now we can buy a beach house!’ Players today are like, ‘Well, now we can buy an entire sports franchise. We can buy whatever we want.’ It is interesting how the sports entertainment industry has changed.”
Speaking of which, the Salmons admit there was once “a lot of apprehension about us moving into the neighborhood” among longtime residents. “Dennis Rodman’s house is the next block over. Literally like five houses down,” Tim explains. “We were coming on the heels of him moving and all the craziness that he brought down here, and to hear that another athlete was moving in raised some eyebrows, but I think we have done a pretty good job of fitting in.”
Next-door neighbors Cindy and Lee Gittleman, who’ve lived in the neighborhood since 1988, laugh at the idea that anyone could have been concerned. “There was no comparison between someone like Rodman and a Tim Salmon,” Cindy says. Most telling, say the Gittlemans, is that “no one who knows the Salmons ever speaks about them in the singular.”
“They are a loving and giving family,” Cindy adds. “We are very fortunate to have gotten to know them over many years and very proud to say they are not just our neighbors, they are our friends.”
During Tim’s playing years, family life was split evenly between “the baseball life and regular life” – six months in OC at their original home in Tustin Ranch and six months in Arizona. Once he retired, they could have gone wherever they wanted. “But there is so much that draws us back here, whether it is with my work or family and friends, or just the beach in general. Lots of Arizonans go to San Diego, and they all rave about it. San Diego is nice, but here you have Disneyland, Angel games, Hollywood, Fashion Island. You’ve got Laguna Beach for the arts and Huntington Beach for surfing events like the US Open. This is a nice hub. It really is. Plus you never get tired of the sunsets.”
“Or the sound of the ocean,” Marci adds wistfully.
Which raises the question: Why not make Arizona the “winter house” and call Newport home? The two shoot a look between each other. Marci grew up in Phoenix and most of their family resides in Arizona, so it’s clearly a topic that’s been discussed. “Well …” Tim begins, “we’ve talked about it. As the kids move on and as I settle into more of a defined, established role of whatever it is I do with the Angels, this may become more like the home, in the sense of living here year-round.”
Marci feigns shock. “And miss all that summer heat in Phoenix?”