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Inside Baseball: The Man who Puts the Socks on Fenway

If you’re watching the World Series tonight, as I am at the moment, you’ve seen that cool Red Sox logo on the infield grass. Let me introduce you to the man responsible for that creative touch, Dave Mellor, director of the grounds at Fenway Park. He appeared in Fast Company a few years ago and explained how he came to be an artist on the baseball diamond:

If you’re watching the World Series tonight, as I am at the moment, you’ve seen that cool Red Sox logo on the infield grass. Let me introduce you to the man responsible for that creative touch, Dave Mellor, director of the grounds at Fenway Park. He appeared in Fast Company a few years ago and explained how he came to be an artist on the baseball diamond:

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“Baseball runs in the family. My grandfather played in the majors in 1902 for Baltimore, and when I pitched in high school, I hoped to play in the majors one day. Then a month after graduation, I got hit by a car. My baseball career was over. But during physical therapy, I thought about how I loved being outside, how I grew up taking care of people’s lawns, and how I loved baseball. I decided to study land horticulture and agronomy in college and become a groundskeeper.”

The designs on the field? They started as a fluke.

He was working for the Milwaukee Brewers, his first job in the bigs, and to cover up damaged grass in the outfield from a Paul McCartney concert the night before, Mellor improvised, mowing a pattern on the field (the blades are darker on one side, which creates the contrast you see). The look was a hit with the fans and he’s been doing it ever since.

Mellor: “Now I think of the field as my canvas. The patterns gives me a chance to be creative and enhance the experience at Fenway. I’ve done checkerboard, plaid, waves, diamonds, and the Red Sox logo, the first time that had been done. After Sept. 11, I mowed an American flag on the field. After Ted Williams died, I put a No. 9 in the left field grass. For the team’s 100th anniversary, we created a bat and baseballs to spell out ‘100.’ One of my favorites was a sunburst design that my daughter drew. When you see one of your patterns on another team’s field, it’s the ultimate compliment.

“To be in the majors is an incredible thrill, but to take care of the park you grew up worshipping is almost indescribable. I still get goose bumps thinking about it.”

About the author

Chuck Salter is a senior editor at Fast Company and a longtime award-winning feature writer for the magazine. In addition to his print, online and video stories, he performs live reported narratives at various conferences, and he edited the Fast Company anthologies Breakthrough Leadership, Hacking Hollywood, and #Unplug.

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