In the spring of 1957, David Montgomery stepped onto a ball field in Roxborough and a love affair began.
Back then, it was called Daisy Field.
On Sunday, with the sun reflecting off the fall foliage and an autumn crisp in the air, it became David P. Montgomery Field.
“This is a beautiful day in a beautiful place honoring a beautiful person,” said Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney, standing at home plate and speaking to a large crowd that ringed the field and filled the infield.
Sixty-one years after he first stepped on the ball field as a 10-year-old member of the Andorra A’s Little League team, Montgomery, the former president and current chairman of the Phillies, was back on the ball field for a touching ceremony that renamed the beautifully refurbished ballpark in his honor.
“We are all standing here today to honor David and his indelible mark on Philadelphia sports history at the very place where it all began,” Dan Baker, the master of ceremonies and voice of Citizens Bank Park, told the crowd.
Kathryn Ott Lovell, Philadelphia’s Parks and Recreation commissioner, nailed it when she described Montgomery as “a champion of Philadelphia.” A proud native son of Roxborough, Montgomery’s love for his city has always shined brightly through his and the Phillies’ commitment to the community, especially its youth.
“Thank you, David, for all you’ve done for sports, for our city, for recreation,” Kenney said. “You are an icon and a giant.”
Councilman Curtis Jones Jr. came up with the idea to rename the ball field in Montgomery’s honor. The Phillies, Eagles, Flyers, Sixers, Union and others made generous donations to fund upgrades to the facility and the winners will be the kids who will play on the field for years to come.
“It’s not where you are from,” Jones said. “What matters most is that you come back and give back and that is what David has always done. We want to recognize him for that.”
Former mayor and governor Ed Rendell, Montgomery’s old friend dating to their college days at Penn, spoke of how proud the late Liz Montgomery would have been of her son — not because he became one of the most respected executives in professional sports, not because he presided over a team that won a World Series, but because he had a ball field, right there at home in Roxborough, named after him.
“I had no doubt that David would be successful,” Rendell said. “One, because he’s as likable a person as I’ve ever met and likability still counts. Number two, he runs out every ground ball. It’s a baseball term but it also applies to life. David never quits, never gives up on something. He’s relentless when he wants to get something done and fortunately for us, most of the things he was relentless about were improving the Phillies and improving Philadelphia. So, David, thanks for running out every ground ball.”
Folks of all ages attended the event. Young baseball and softball players from the neighborhood were on hand. Former Phillies players were on hand. There was even a Chicago Cub there. Yes, Cole Hamels was there and he helped Montgomery’s three grandchildren throw out a ceremonial first pitch on the field where their granddad’s love for baseball was first ignited.
The honored guest was touched.
“Sixty-one years ago, this was our field of dreams,” David Montgomery said. “I know the impact this place had on this young boy’s life.
“You can take the boy out of the ‘Borough, but you can’t take the ‘Borough out of the boy.”
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