Red Sox Weekend features inspiring story of David Mellor

Written by: Janey Murray

When he was 18 years old, David Mellor’s dream was to be a Major League Baseball player.

Mellor has now been a part of four Boston Red Sox World Series titles while working at Fenway Park since 2001. But rather than making it to the big leagues as a player, Mellor has done it all as the Red Sox’ senior director of grounds.

In 1981, Mellor was an 18-year-old pitcher who had just finished high school and was preparing to go to college. But when he was struck by a car in a McDonald’s parking lot, he had to change his plans.

“I thought not only was my leg crushed,” Mellor said. “I thought my dreams were crushed.”

With some encouragement from his mother and two brothers, he decided to spend his recovery time finding a way to channel his passions into a new career path.

“I enjoyed being outside,” Mellor said. “I grew up taking care of peoples’ lawns to earn money. I enjoyed science in school, and I loved baseball. I put all those together, and I thought someone had to be a major league groundskeeper.”

His career began with the Milwaukee Brewers, and he spent time working for the Los Angeles Angels, San Francisco Giants and Green Bay Packers before joining the Red Sox in 2001.

While working for the Brewers in 1995, Mellor was hit by a car a second time. As a result of the two accidents, he has suffered from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) for decades.

However, it wasn’t until September 2010 that he was finally diagnosed and could put a name to his symptoms.

“I thought it was a sign of weakness if I showed emotion,” Mellor said. “Now, I know it’s not a sign of weakness to ask for help. It’s a sign of strength.”

After his diagnosis, Mellor found that an important part of his counseling was writing his feelings down to desensitize his emotions about the traumas he had experienced. That writing began the manuscript for his book, One Base at a Time: How I Survived PTSD and Found My Field of Dreams, which recounts his struggles with PTSD, his perseverance in overcoming his debilitating symptoms and his experiences working as an MLB groundskeeper for 35 years.

“If it helps one person, it’s worth sharing your journey,” Mellor said. “We want to let people know that it’s not a sign of weakness to ask for help, that you’re not alone and help is available, and that treatment works, and to not give up when facing these challenges.”

Mellor will continue to promote the message of his new book through a discussion and signing during Red Sox World Series Weekend July 6-7 at the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown.

Mellor’s appearance as part of the Museum’s Author Series program will be held at 1 p.m. on Saturday, July 6, in the Hall of Fame’s Bullpen Theater.

Red Sox Weekend also features a chance to see the 2018 World Series trophy at the Museum from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sunday.

Mellor grew up a Red Sox fanatic, so being a caretaker of Fenway Park and getting to see the Red Sox win four World Series championships, including their most recent title in 2018, has been a dream come true.

“I think of the childhood memories of playing wiffle ball, and emulating Luis Tiant, Jim Rice, Dwight Evans, Fred Lynn,” Mellor said. “Being able to walk on that field every day, I literally get goosebumps every day that I walk out there.”

Since May 2014, Mellor has had a companion to join him every time he comes to work at Fenway Park. His service dog, Drago, accompanies him 24 hours a day, interrupting any triggers of anxiety he senses and helping with Mellor’s mobility.

“In the book, we also want to bring awareness to how incredible and life changing service dogs are,” Mellor said. “Drago is trained in task to help me with PTSD as well as mobility, so he gives me incredible confidence and courage to take on every day challenges.”

The title of the book, “One Base at a Time,” is also a philosophy Mellor strives to live by. Rather than allowing challenges to overwhelm him, he takes them one step at a time, setting short- and long-term goals to help overcome obstacles.

“If I would have given up when I was first hit by the car, there’s so many incredible experiences I never would have had,” Mellor said. “We just want to inspire people to celebrate every day, because you never know when that next challenge will happen.”

Janey Murray is the 2019 public relations intern in the Hall of Fame’s Frank and Peggy Steele Internship Program for Youth Leadership Development

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