Joey Mellows is having the kind of season he’ll probably want to tell his grandchildren about someday.
Whether or not they’ll believe him is anybody’s guess.
Mellows made his first appearance in New Mexico on Thursday, arriving just in time for the Oklahoma City-Albuquerque baseball game at Isotopes Park. The home team’s 10-0 loss to the Dodgers did not manage to dampen his mood.
Thursday’s game was No. 67 for Mellows this season and all of them have been on the road. The 34-year-old native of Portsmouth, England, has 95 more to go.
Mellows, better known by his Twitter handle “Baseball Brit,” is living an adventure most die-hard sports fans could hardly imagine. He’s on a quest to take in 162 baseball games this season and is seeing a lot of the world in the process.
Mellows drove to Albuquerque from West Texas, where he took in an Amarillo Sod Poodles game earlier this week.
“I’ve never been to New Mexico before,” Mellows said. “With the rock formations and everything, it looks like something you see in the movies. It’s beautiful.”
Mellows came to the game after stopping at Dion’s Pizza on a recommendation from Albuquerque native and Houston Astros third baseman Alex Bregman, whom he met during a previous stop at Minute Maid Park.
The Brit liked the pizza and the view from Isotopes Park, where he made a point to snap some photos. He’s gathered quite a few ballpark shots this season.
Mellows, who acquired his love of baseball while living and working in South Korea, started his journey by attending the season-opening Seattle Mariners-Oakland Athletics series in Japan. He returned to Korea for that country’s season-opener, then headed for America. First stop Seattle.
From there Mellows flew to Connecticut where his baseball road trip began in earnest. He’s been driving to ballparks major and minor all over the country since and estimates he’s put more than 10,000 miles on his rental car.
How is Mellows funding this trip, you ask? By emptying his savings account.
“A lot of people on social media don’t believe it,” Mellows said. “Almost every day I get posts asking, ‘What are you doing on this trip? Who’s really paying for all this?’ I am.”
Mellows says he’s spending funds accumulated over 10 years of teaching at a boarding school in South Korea.
“I didn’t have to pay for accommodations, food, anything really,” he said. “I saved almost everything I made. Now I’m taking a year to enjoy myself.”
It hasn’t all been a walk in the ballpark. Mellows’ budget requires him to cut corners.
“Some people have put me up but I’ve slept in my car — it’s getting kind of hot for that now — and stayed at some pretty grimy hotels,” he said. “I’ve washed my hair with hotel shower gel a few times, that’s for sure.”
Weather has been a factor, as well.
“I was in Louisiana and my car radio started crackling about a tornado warning,” Mellows recalled. “The radio went dead and I didn’t know what to do, ended up driving into an extreme weather event.
“The rain and wind were so strong I couldn’t see anything so I was driving with my head out the window just crying and shaking. I stopped in a bar in north Louisiana and said, ‘Give me a double whiskey neat!'”
Mellows weathered another tornado warning in St. Louis with a Cardinals fan who took him in.
“We were in the basement and watched my first ice hockey game,” he said. “It was great. I’m really glad the Blues won the Stanley Cup.”
Mellows will head for Denver and Coors Field today but he’ll soon start heading east, eventually to London. He plans to attend the MLB London Series games between the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees.
In fact, part of the idea behind Mellows’ trip is to drum up interest in England and Europe for his favorite sport’s London debut. So far, so good. Baseball Brit had 2,409 Twitter followers as of Thursday night.
“I think baseball will be huge there,” Mellows said. “It’s a great sport, especially live.”
Mellows plans to return to the United States after the London Series to complete his 162-game season. His second-half schedule has yet to be determined but Mellows plans to make the most of it.
“I’m the luckiest guy on the planet to be doing this,” he said. “I can’t believe how nice and welcoming people have been.”
But when the season ends, Baseball Brit knows he’ll have to find gainful employment.
“Yes, I’m afraid someone’s going to come for my credit card at some point,” he said, “but right now I’ve never been more happy in my life.”