David Mont­gomery’s Field of Dreams gets a new name

The Review - - OBITUARIES - Mike Weil­bacher Colum­nist Mike Weil­bacher di­rects the Schuylkill Cen­ter for En­vi­ron­men­tal Ed­u­ca­tion in Up­per Roxbor­ough, tweets @ SCEEMike and can be reached at mike@ schuylkill­cen­ter.org.

Late Sun­day morn­ing, un­der a pic­ture-per­fect blue sky with au­tumn leaves peak­ing in color, some 200 friends, Phillies fans, for­mer Phillies (Cole Hamels! Larry Bowa!), the mayor and the Pha­natic him­self gath­ered to give Daisy Field in the Wissahickon sec­tion of Roxbor­ough, those fields tucked be­tween the Wissahickon Creek and the Her­mit’s Cave, a new name.

It’s now David P. Mont­gomery Field, named af­ter Roxbor­ough’s own long-serv­ing ex­ec­u­tive with the Phillies, cur­rently its chair­man.

If Roxbor­ough were to cre­ate a Hall of Fame — and it should — the in­au­gu­ral class would have to in­clude David, who Phillies an­nouncer Dan Baker, that famed voice who also em­ceed the cel­e­bra­tion, called “one of the most suc­cess­ful and re­spected ex­ec­u­tives in Philadel­phia his­tory, even in the coun­try.”

Amen.

I joined the party to honor David, as he is a long­time friend of the Schuylkill Cen­ter. As many speak­ers ref­er­enced, David is com­mit­ted to the city and to many causes in the city — and worked with all of the city’s pro­fes­sional sports teams, even the Union, to help the city cob­ble to­gether funds to give the old Daisy Field its gor­geous makeover in time for the cer­e­mony.

Through a big chunk of the 1980s and into the ‘90s, he served on the Schuylkill Cen­ter’s board, be­com­ing its pres­i­dent, as our found­ing ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor, Dick James, him­self a Roxbor­ough leg­end, was for decades the Phillies weather fore­caster — Dick would be on the phone with David or David’s good friend and re­tired Phillies ex­ec­u­tive Bill Giles, let­ting them know how the weather might mess with the game.

Larry Bowa, still a Phillie af­ter all these years, was one of the play­ers to speak Sun­day, and he of­fered how “one of the things we hated the most was rain de­lays — you know how I am.” And the play­ers would in­evitably anoint the hot-headed Larry as the one to call David to find out what was up with the game — and Larry con­ceded that David would an­swer some­thing like, “‘There is an open­ing in the weather above the air­port — we’re go­ing to get the game in, trust me.’ And darned if he wasn’t right — we got home at 2 or 3 in the morn­ing, but we got the game in.”

That anec­dote made me smile, as only I, among those there Sun­day, knew that David was, in turn, on the phone with our own Dick James get­ting the weather low­down.

But David loved the Schuylkill Cen­ter and our mis­sion of con­nect­ing Roxbor­ough to na­ture so much he made sure mul­ti­ple other Phillies ex­ec­u­tives served as trustees. Back in the spring, the Schuylkill Cen­ter held our En­chanted For­est party to honor the Phillies’ re­la­tion­ship with our cen­ter and our mis­sion, and a big chunk of the Phillies fam­ily came to help us cel­e­brate — in­clud­ing the Pha­natic. At the event, the Pha­natic helped me an­nounce that the Schuylkill Cen­ter is us­ing a mul­ti­year gift from the Phillies to build the Pha­natic Fort, a play area for all-nat­u­ral free play. Can’t wait to un­veil this with David.

The field they picked to ded­i­cate to David was won­der­fully apt. In 1957, 10-year-old David was a mem­ber of the An­dorra A’s — its catcher, I be­lieve. The A’s were one of only four teams in a new Lit­tle League be­ing formed, and the teams pa­raded down Ridge Av­enue in con­vert­ibles to play each other on then-new Daisy Field, built by the sweat eq­uity of the par­ents. His A’s in­au­gu­rated the field that day.

Dan Baker joked that David’s first at-bat re­sulted in a line drive over the left field fence and into the trees, but David, hum­ble to his core, re­mem­bered it dif­fer­ently — “I re­mem­ber a popup straight up, I think.”

Only a block from the Schuylkill Cen­ter is the Al Pearl­man Sports Com­plex, the much-larger Lit­tle League fields near the reser­voirs. David’s first job in base­ball, soon af­ter his Daisy Field days, was work­ing there, earn­ing $2 a day mow­ing the lawns, keep­ing score, lin­ing the base paths. In 1971, he broke into a job low on the Phillies totem pole. Look where he is now — 47 years into a wildly suc­cess­ful Phillies ca­reer, one Cole Hamels, an­other speaker, called “mon­u­men­tal.”

“I am lit­er­ally em­bar­rassed by the num­ber of peo­ple here,” David told the crowd when it was fi­nally his turn to speak. “I can’t tell you enough how for­tu­nate I was to grow up in Roxbor­ough. Sixty-one years ago, this was our field of dreams. 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.”

That was one of the event’s big­gest ap­plause lines. In sum­ming up the cer­e­mony, Mayor Jim Ken­ney scored an­other when he of­fered, “It’s a beau­ti­ful day, in a beau­ti­ful place, hon­or­ing a beau­ti­ful per­son.” He’s right.

On be­half of all of Roxbor­ough, thanks for ev­ery­thing, David.

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO

Gath­er­ing to help Phillies ex­ec­u­tive David P. Mont­gomery, far left, re­name the old Daisy Field in his honor are, from left, for­mer Phillies play­ers Mickey Mo­ran­dini, Larry Chris­ten­son, Larry An­der­son, Cole Hamels and Larry Bowa and broad­caster Scott Franzke.

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