By Steve LaMontia, Director of Communications
Dave Ellis is one lucky guy. He is a marathon runner who dodged a heart attack because he had the foresight to check a few things out with his doctor because he noticed his times weren’t where they should be in his races. It’s a good thing he did.
Dave plays in the Seacoast MSBL in New Hampshire, where Paul Brooks is the League President. When Paul was asked about potential stories of interest within his league, he was quick to answer.
“We have a player in our league that has played for several seasons,” stated Paul. “He is liked by all and known by everyone. Before last season, he was rushed to Boston for major open-heart surgery. It was touch and go but he has made a great recovery and has been cleared to play in 2024.”
That led us to 57-year-old Dave Ellis’ doorstep. We were fortunate to spend some time with him for a little deeper explanation regarding what the heck happened.
“I enjoy running in 5K and 10K marathons for charity and have been doing so for quite a few years,” explained Dave. “In 2022 I started noticing that my times were going up and my breathing was becoming labored. I ran in the Turkey Trot over Thanksgiving and didn’t feel very good afterward but still went to work on Friday.”
The symptoms didn’t get any better the following week so Dave went to the doctor to check things out.
“I went to the hospital and thought maybe I had bronchitis. I had a lung scan a couple of years prior and it came back negative. But the examination showed that there was some fluid around my lungs and heart and that I also had pneumonia! The doc was shocked that I could still run a 5K the week before.”
This is where the story gets a little interesting.
“They did some tests and when I woke, they said ‘You’re going to Mass General (Boston) right away,” said Ellis. “They performed a four-way bypass and I was in the hospital for a month. I was a few steps away from a heart attack because of my clogged arteries. I also stayed away from work for 16 weeks! I couldn’t play ball in 2023 but will be back this year. Now I just have to watch what I eat. I have already run in a couple of 5K’s and can play ball this year. I’m thankfully still alive!”
The Seacoast MSBL started in 1990, making this their 34th season. Dave started playing in 2013 after dedicating many years to coaching in the Babe Ruth youth leagues and helping the kids. This will be Dave’s 11th season in the Seacoast MSBL.
“I play on the Cardinals and am your basic right fielder and get to play second base once in a while. I even pitched once, but it was an exhibition game. I hug the plate so I get hit a lot. I’m not a great hitter so my on-base percentage is a lot higher than my batting average!”
Dave lives in Rochester, home of the league, but they also draw from nearby Barrington and Dover.
“I never played baseball in high school. I played some football and basketball but I always loved baseball. When I started coaching, my passion really took hold. We won a couple of Babe Ruth championships so something must have clicked. It’s always a little iffy when dealing with 11 to 16-year-olds. You have to teach the older ones to help the younger ones.”
At 57 years old, being in shape has its benefits, even in the work environment.
“I am a mechanic for a living. I work for the sixth-oldest tire company in the country. Lifting inflated tires and wheels can certainly keep the pounds off!”
What do you feel is the best thing about the Seacoast MSBL?
“I see a lot of camaraderie from the players who have been there a while. It is like a big family. Sure, we have constructive criticism, which is always helpful. Many people have a lot of baseball knowledge and they are happy to share it. There has always been a lot of support. We also host league practices where anyone can come and workout together. We are all out there because of our love of the game and friendship.”
Are there any MLB role models you look up to or try to pattern your playing and your life after?
“I am a big Red Sox fan, of course, and have always admired David Ortiz. He was an inspiration to all of us. Don’t tell my friends, but I also admire Derek Jeter. He was very graceful, not a showboat, and just did his job with class. He was a gentleman off the field, too.”
Are there any personal comments you wish to add about your playing or your life thus far?
“I have learned not to take one single day for granted. Playing any sport has a lot to do with your drive and what kind of person you are. Always do your best, regardless of your talent level. That’s what playing is all about. There is no room for a ‘win at all costs’ attitude. Playing sports has a benefit in determining what kind of person you are or will be.
It’s a gentleman’s sport. Be nice to the umpires and the other team. There is no room for animosity on the field. I want to play for as long as I can. There are a couple of guys who are in their 60’s and they keep playing and look forward to it every year. I want to become one of them.”