This globe-trotting Portsmouth man has quit his job and is trying to convince Brits to fall in love with baseball – including his ex-Pompey player dad
JOEY Mellows’ baseball odyssey began nearly 6,000 miles away from Portsmouth and will take him all across North America before returning to the UK.
The son of former Blues winger Mick Mellows, he is a ‘Pompey boy through and through’.
But after living and working as a teacher in South Korea since 2014, he has quit his job, packed up his life and embarked on possibly his toughest teaching assignment yet.
The 34-year-old, who was born in St Mary’s Hospital and raised in Drayton, is trying to get Brits like his dad and mates back home to fall in love with America’s game – not just trips to Fratton Park.
Joey will spend the coming months visiting all 30 ballparks in North America, sharing his journey online in the hope of raising the profile of the sport back home.
Speaking to The News from the laundry room of the youth hostel he is staying in Seattle on the opening day of the 2019 MLB season, he answers the question all readers are probably thinking right now – why baseball?
He explained: ‘I have been working in South Korea in Seoul since 2014 for Dulwich Collage.
‘I went to my first baseball game while on holiday in Japan when my parents came to visit me.
‘It was just something to do that would take up a few hours and I ended up really enjoyed it.
‘My dad is Mick Mellows, he used to play for Pompey in the 70s. I’m trying to convince him to like baseball.
‘I make him watch the games with me on TV when I’m back.’
To the uninitiated, baseball lingo can seem daunting. What are RBIs? Why are there so many stats?
Joey says he taught himself the game of baseball by watching it on the TV and going to games.
‘I started going to games in South Korea,’ he said.
‘Because of the time difference, I used to watch the MLB when I woke up to get my head around the rules.’
The American leg of his baseball mission began in the state of Washington on March 28 at T-Mobile Park in Seattle.
But the odyssey itself started at the Tokyo Dome in Japan on March 20, where Seattle Mariners and Oakland As kicked off the MLB season on foreign soil.
Explaining why he decided now was the time to travel America going to watch and write about baseball, Joey said: ‘I have been teaching for the last 10 years.
‘I have been, to be honest, a pretty sensible bloke. I have saved my money and I didn’t really go on holidays outside the UK until I moved to South Korea.
‘MLB is coming to the UK for the first time in June with the Red Sox and the Yankees at London Stadium and I’m really hopeful that people back home will start to watch it.
‘My friends say ‘isn’t it just rounders?’. The more people back here who see it and hear about it they will realise it’s more relaxed and fun.
‘So I thought this season was the best time to do it.
‘I will be going to lots of Red Sox and Yankee games in America.’
He will be sharing his exploits on social media for people back home in Britain to follow along – in particular on his Twitter account @BaseballBrit.
Joey will also be producing a weekly segment about his journey and the ballparks he’s visited for Caps Off – a baseball show that will air on Thursdays on BT Sport here in the UK.
The Fratton Park of America
There are currently 30 MLB teams across North America – 29 in the United States and one in Canada.
From Seattle to New York, St Louis to Toronto and Kansas City, there are ballparks from sea to shining sea.
Joey says that he is most excited to see one stadium in particular above all the others – Fenway Park, home of the Boston Red Sox – because it will be like a taste of home.
He explained: ‘I’m going for their opening home game next week.
‘It is a bit like Fratton Park, it is one of the oldest ballparks in the country and it’s quite small with a good atmosphere.
‘I’m excited about all of it. It’s not just going to be major league games.’
Joey will be heading to North Carolina in the coming weeks for Fayetteville Woodpeckers first ever home game, an experience he is excited about.
He said: ‘It’s their first home opening day and I will be there. I don’t know anything about Fayetteville and I’ve never been to North Carolina.
‘It’s a sold-out game and I’m excited.’