Sports

English baseball coach Doug Mullins battles cancer with baseball community’s support behind him

Lynn, Ma. 3-26-19. Jamar Moreta, left, Coach doug Mullins, and Andy Duverge talking at baseball practice at Lynn English. (Owen O'Rourke)

LYNN — Doug Mullins was in unbearable pain with what he thought was a shoulder injury during the spring as he coached the Lynn English baseball team to a spot in the Division 1 North state tournament.

The Bulldogs lost in the first round, 10-1, to Malden Catholic. And as much as she wanted to see her son, and his team, progress in the states, Kathy Mullins was just as happy that the season was over.

“I just didn’t want to see him in pain,” she said. 

The shoulder became an issue for Mullins, who is 32, when he was just 17 years old. But nobody was prepared for what they found out last month.

Mullins was diagnosed with osteosarcoma (bone cancer) and it had spread throughout his body. 

“This is a guy who never missed a game … never even missed a practice,” Kathy Mullins said. “He couldn’t lie down. He couldn’t sit down. The pain had spread to other areas. His pain level was excruciating.”

Her immediate concern is that the left side of his face is paralyzed because the tumor is hitting a nerve. The family hopes that radiation, which was to have begun Wednesday, would help him get his feeling back. 

“He has only one arm working, one eye, not to mention everything else that’s going on with him,” she said. 

“He has to just keep fighting,” she said. “I don’t know what else to say.”

Mullins’ friends have said plenty, and done plenty, in the weeks since word spread about his cancer. His friends, organized by Shane Seaman, began a GoFundMe page which has, in a month, raised $30,000. His colleagues at English and in the Lynn baseball community have gone out of their way to offer comfort and support to the family.

And Friday, at Tony’s Pub on Franklin Street in Lynn, where will be a fundraiser from 5-9 p.m. in hopes of raising more funds to help defray his medical expenses.

“I hope a lot of people come out for that,” said Joe Caponigro, who was Mullins’ immediate predecessor at English (Mullins was an assistant). “He’s touched a lot of lives.”

“He’s kind of a throwback,” Caponigro said. “He just lives for this (coaching).”

The Bulldogs have only had three baseball coaches in 55 years: Ron Bennett, Caponigro (who coached from 2004 through 2017) and Mullins, who just completed his second year and, according to athletic director Dick Newton, had an immediate positive impact on the program.

“After we lost (to Malden Catholic), I saw all those players come out onto the field, crying. They love this guy. They all were upset that weren’t going to keep playing.

“This is very disheartening,” said Newton, himself a baseball star at English, who later played college ball. “Forget baseball. This is just sad all-around. Life is just tough sometimes.”

Said English principal Tom Strangie, “you won’t find a nicer kid. He’s just a solid, very kind, man. My heart breaks for him and his family.”

Kathy Mullins, who is home taking care of her son, speaks in awe of the number of people who have helped her and her family.

“The English people came over the other day and took him to lunch,” she said. “They’ve just been tremendous. We’ve had so many of his friends who have been fantastic to us.”

And despite her concern about her son’s long-term prognosis, she speaks in awe of him, too.

“He has been such a dedicated coach,” she said. “He went through the whole season in agony, and never complained. 

“He’s clearly had this for some time,” she said. “But this is his life. He loves this. He’s lived for those kids.

“This has been a total nightmare,” she said. “This had to have been there all along. It had to have  been.”

Mullins is the youngest of the family four, which also includes Rebecca, Jennifer and David. He is a graduate of Lynn Classical.

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