By BEN WALKER, AP Baseball Author
No canine ever had a greater yard to play in than Drago.
As a result of as numerous Boston Pink Sox gamers and followers noticed during the last decade, Drago's playground was Fenway Park.
Sniffing alongside the Inexperienced Monster, exploring the dugouts or just resting on the pitcher's mound earlier than a sport, Drago was a delight. And useful, too, as a German shepherd service canine for head groundskeeper Dave Mellor.
Every week in the past, shortly after strolling on the outfield grass earlier than the Pink Sox hosted Oakland, Drago had a stroke. Two days later, he died at age 10.
“I used to be blessed he was in my life as he saved my life, modified my life, impressed me and gave hope to my life in methods I hadn’t had in a long time and didn’t know have been doable,” Mellor texted The Related Press on Thursday.
“I'm completely heartbroken,” he mentioned.
On Friday night time, earlier than a sport in opposition to St. Louis, the Pink Sox acknowledged Drago on the videoboard and a tribute was learn over the public-address system.
“Buddies, all through Fenway Park's 110-year historical past, so many have roamed the diamond and given us recollections to final a lifetime. However maybe none have supplied extra love and luxury than the four-legged companion of our head groundskeeper, Dave Mellor,” the salute learn.
“Final night time, we realized that this fixed presence and beloved determine on the ballpark for practically a decade was laid to relaxation,” it mentioned. “We ship love and help to his household, honor his service and acknowledge a life properly lived. We are going to miss you, Drago.”
Mellor has been tending the Fenway garden since 2001 and met Drago in 2014.
Drago was at all times close to Mellor’s aspect, on and off the sector. Mellor twice in his life was hit by automobiles, necessitating dozens of surgical procedures, and Drago helped him deal with the results of post-traumatic stress dysfunction.
A pair days earlier than the Pink Sox performed the Los Angeles Dodgers within the 2018 World Collection, Drago romped across the Fenway Park grass with considered one of his sons, pet Bronco — owned by then-Boston pitcher Rick Porcello.
Bronco was amongst a litter of 5 born that summer season to Lisle, one other of Mellor’s canine. Then-Pink Sox infielder Ian Kinsler additionally adopted a littermate.
“You see Dave with Drago on the market on the sector, you'll be able to see he’s a particular canine,” Kinsler mentioned a day earlier than the Collection.
Many Pink Sox followers, conscious of the workforce's historical past, typically puzzled if Mellor's canine was named for former Boston pitcher Dick Drago.
That might be a pleasant contact, Mellor would say, however not correct.
“He was born in Slovakia,” Mellor as soon as defined. “They instructed us his identify means ‘valuable’ in Slovakian.”
Mellor is surrounded by canine lovers. A number of years in the past, his spouse and household went to the Westminster Kennel Membership Canine Present at Madison Sq. Backyard in New York Metropolis and spent an hour touring the backstage space.
Mellor mentioned considered one of Drago's sons, Keeper, will turn out to be his service canine after finishing his coaching.
In recognition of Drago, Mellor requested folks to offer “further love” to their canine and take into account a donation in his prized pet's identify to the Angell Animal Medical Middle in Boston or the House Base Program at Massachusetts Basic Hospital.
“We now have been overwhelmed by the highly effective and delightful tributes for Drago. He touched so many individuals’s lives,” Mellor mentioned.
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