“Dave Mellor has built one of baseball’s most inspirational stories over the last half-century. Anchored by a love for his family and the game, he survived incomprehensible catastrophes and PTSD to become a pioneering ballfield artist and head groundskeeper for Fenway Park.”—Buster Olney, ESPN
Baseball and PTSD aren’t often mentioned in the same sentence. But then again, the experiences of David Mellor, the head groundskeeper for the Boston Red Sox, aren’t typical of someone in the big leagues. “One Base at a Time: How I Survived PTSD and Found My Field of Dreams” by STMA member Mellor will be released next month. Mellor shares with readers not just a compelling chronicle of his traumatic experiences, but also first-person insights on the importance of finding help to overcome the worst of what life throws at you.
“If I had read a book like this 30 years ago, my life would have been different,” Mellor said.
In 1981, Mellor suffered a freak accident when a car pinned the then-18-year-old against a wall outside a McDonald’s, tearing up his knee and ending the pitching prospect’s big-league hopes. Even more shocking, in 1995, Mellor was working on the field as a groundskeeper for the Milwaukee Brewers when a driver with a history of mental illness busted her car through a security gate and ran him down on the warning track.
These and many other traumas and dozens of surgeries recounted by Mellor left him physically and psychologically scarred for decades, and triggered in him a malady that wouldn’t be diagnosed for decades: post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. Mellor suffered mood swings, irritability, restlessness, extreme sensitivity, screaming nightmares and more. Mellor said he felt ashamed as he was struggle through PTSD in the days before his diagnosis: “I assumed that I was just weak and wondered why it was that I couldn’t handle everything and move on.”
Then, by chance, Mellor read a magazine feature on PTSD. He instantly recognized his own condition in the description. He said, “I started ticking off the symptoms that had haunted me for almost 30 years. Involuntary trembling? Sometimes. Irritability? Often. Restlessness? Yes. Depression? Absolutely. Nightmares? Always. Insomnia? Definitely. Emotional numbness? Yes. Sensitivity to noise? Yes! A tendency to seek relief in alcohol? I had!”
Mellor said, “I had always thought PTSD was a condition only soldiers who had dealt with the horrors of war could have, but today we understand that PTSD can be caused by all sorts of trauma, from warfare to assault, from sexual abuse to being in a car accident. I went nearly three decades before I made the connection between my symptoms and PTSD.
“My hope is that this book helps people heal, people I may never even know personally.”
Mellor explained, “I wrote this book so others won’t suffer as long as I did, and those around them won’t suffer either. I want this book to be the start of a life-changing journey of healing for those who are suffering from PTSD. There is help out there.”
“To all who suffer from PTSD, know this: In spite of it all, today, against all odds, I am making progress and you can, too.”
A key part of Mellor’s recovery, which he discusses in his book, came about thanks to the introduction of his service dog, Drago, into his life—a story featured on ESPN.
“Drago has had a powerful and life-changing impact on me,” Mellor said. “He is always by my side, on and off the field.”
Mellor concluded, “I will continue to take the same approach that has carried me this far: One step at a time; one base at a time. It is never too late to take that first step.” Amazon link