He may be the owner of one of baseball’s sweetest mustaches and one of baseball’s hottest pitchers down the stretch in 2017, but Daniel Mengden is first and foremost a friend, a brother, and a son. The Oakland Athletics starting pitcher went 3-1 with a 1.54 ERA, walking only nine batters and limited opponents to a .180 average over his final five starts of 2017. While a spot in the rotation is in his sights moving forward, he can’t help but look back at the path that got him to this pinnacle moment in his life today.
“It is kind of surreal, this is happening here and this is great and incredible,” said Mengden, regarding the progress he has made thus far in his journey.
His journey has been a longtime in the making. It started off as it does for any, a game. Dating back to his days at tee-ball, Mengden’s intentions were clear and unwavering. He would go as far to tell his father, his biggest supporter from a young age, that a career in baseball was always the end goal. Turning the corner as a teenager this dream began to come to fruition. As his game grew, so did his mindset. A motivational change shifted in him and it was from that point moving forward there was no turning back.
He started at Texas A&M, was drafted by the Houston Astros, and he is currently on the Athletics. Mengden has not forgotten his roots and where he comes from. It is his Houston community of friends and family that have been a constant driving force and point of inspiration.
“I have always wanted to be the best player I could ever be,” Mengden said. “I know I have a lot of friends and family back home supporting me. I want to go out there and show them all the hard work I have been putting in out there. I do it for myself. Like I said, I want to be great. I also do it for my friends and family back at home watching and texting me before and after the games.”
Whether it is on the field or off of it, the friendships he has built along the way have made him the baseball player and person he is aiming to be. At only 24 years old and on an Athletic’s roster that had an average age of 28.9 years old, Mengden, the 24-year old, has understandably looked to veterans on the roster for not only direction but a sense of belonging.
Mengden credits his fellow pitchers Sean Manaea and Kendall Graveman as great mentors. Growing alongside them has taught him about the game, how to properly play the game, go about business, and prepare. A simple conversation between teammates goes a long way, something that is often overlooked in the logistics of being a professional athlete. Former teammates Ryan Madison and Sean Doolittle and current teammates such as Khris Davisand Jed Lowrie have set players such as Mengden up for the success he is aiming for.
Mengden appreciates the efforts of the veterans. “Those older guys really take us under their wing and set us in the right direction. They are always there for us.”
The relationships he has built reach further than just the field of play. There is no better example of this than his work with major leaguers outside of the game. Notably for Mengden, his work with the Ralston Cash Foundation. This foundation that raises money for kids who have lost parents to cancer is only one of his many charitable outlets. He has hopes in the future to give back in anyway he can, especially for his community like other athletes have, most notably highlighting the work Houston Texans star, J.J. Watt has accomplished in the wake of Hurricane Harvey.
Although only just beginning his career in the league, Daniel Mengden has made his priorities straight. His love for the game is truly unwavering, but his desire and love for his friends, family, and community is truly his passion. Perhaps he said it best himself. Mengden is a great ballplayer, but as a person he truly exceeds. His self-described “fantastic,” is all too fitting.