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Fenway’s groundskeeper discusses living with PTSD in new book

October 11, 2019  - By
David Mellor Fenway Park Groundskeeper

While David Mellor, senior director of grounds for the Boston Red Sox, is known for his artistry on the field at Fenway Park, he’s raising awareness for those suffering with post-traumatic stress disorder with his new book “One Base at a Time: How I Survived PTSD and Found My Field of Dreams.” (Photo: Seth Jones)

David Mellor, senior director of grounds for the Boston Red Sox, writes about his experience with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in his new memoir “One Base at a Time: How I Survived PTSD and Found My Field of Dreams.

Athletic Turf got a behind-the-scenes tour of Fenway Park but also sat down to speak with Mellor about his experiences in living with PTSD and how those experiences serve as the inspiration for his book.

“I think I’m one of the luckiest people in the world. I’ve been hit by a car three times,” he says. “I figure that’s better than four.”

Mellor was a high school pitcher who dreamed of taking the mound for the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park. His dream was derailed when he was hit by a car, severely damaging his knee. Following his first accident, Mellor decided to pursue a career in baseball, albeit in a different way. He joined the grounds crew with the Milwaukee Brewers. And, while working in the outfield of Milwaukee’s County Stadium overhauling the field, he was struck by a car again.

Mellor suffered a concussion after being hit a third time in February 2018.

After the accidents, Mellor says he suffered from anxiety, nightmares and flashbacks, completely unaware that he was experiencing the debilitating symptoms of as PTSD. Mellor says that all changed when he read a magazine article highlighting a new treatment facility for veterans with PTSD.

“The first paragraph listed 12 symptoms of PTSD. As I read through them, chills ran through me. I could feel these symptoms they listed. Tears started pouring from my face. While it scared me, it gave me hope,” he said. “I never thought I could have PTSD, I thought that was something you could only get through war.”

Mellor says he thought it was a sign of weakness to see a psychologist and ask for help. But that’s all changed as he’s gone through counseling.

“For 29 years, I suffered in silence thinking it was a sign of weakness to ask for help,” he says. “Now, I’m proud to be a PTSD survivor, proud to say I go to counseling. Counseling has changed my world for the better. I’m a better father, a better husband,” he says.

Mellor says that while working with the unpredictability of a baseball season that can stretch from April to November provides its fair set of challenges, being a part of the Fenway Park grounds crew has been an escape, of sorts.

“Mother Nature adds to the challenges we face in this industry,” he says. “With me, at times, work was a release. The busier I kept myself, it seemed to keep my demons not as active. My flashbacks weren’t as active, my symptoms weren’t as active.”

Fenway turf pattern

The artistry of David Mellor, senior director of grounds for the Boston Red Sox, is noticeable from on-the-field and in the stands. (Photo: Seth Jones)

Mellor has also written two books on turf care called “Picture Perfect: Mowing Techniques for Lawns, Landscapes, and Sports” and “The Lawn Bible: How to Keep It Green, Groomed, and Growing Every Season of the Year.”

But he’s most proud of how his new book “One Base at a Time” could help others suffering from PTSD to speak up about their struggles and to seek treatment.

“I didn’t sugarcoat the journey I faced. I wanted people to see that they aren’t alone,” he says. “Tonight, there will be 37,000 people will be here at the ballpark. Every one of those people, either themselves or a loved one, is dealing with something. We want people to not be afraid to ask for help.”

This is posted in Baseball/Softball, Features, Top Stories
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About the Author:

Seth Jones, an 18-year veteran of the golf industry media, is Editor-in-Chief of Golfdom magazine and Athletic Turf. A graduate of the University of Kansas School of Journalism and Mass Communications, Jones began working for Golf Course Management in 1999 as an intern. In his professional career he has won numerous awards, including a Turf and Ornamental Communicators Association (TOCA) first place general feature writing award for his profile of World Golf Hall of Famer Greg Norman and a TOCA first place photography award for his work covering the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. In his career, Jones has accumulated an impressive list of interviews, including such names as George H.W. Bush, Samuel L. Jackson, Lance Armstrong and Charles Barkley. Jones has also done in-depth interviews with such golfing luminaries as Norman, Gary Player, Nick Price and Lorena Ochoa, to name only a few. Jones is a member of both the Golf Writers Association of America and the Turf and Ornamental Communicators Association.

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