David Montgomery’s Field of Dreams gets a new name
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.”
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.
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.