PHILADELPHIA -- David Montgomery wondered on Friday if his life might have been different had he not stepped onto Daisy Field a little more than 61 years ago.Life is full of those hypotheticals, isn't it?But the 72-year-old Montgomery stepped onto that brand new youth baseball field in Roxborough as a
PHILADELPHIA -- David Montgomery wondered on Friday if his life might have been different had he not stepped onto Daisy Field a little more than 61 years ago.
Life is full of those hypotheticals, isn't it?
But the 72-year-old Montgomery stepped onto that brand new youth baseball field in Roxborough as a 10-year-old in 1957. He played in its inaugural game, following an "Opening Day" parade in convertibles down Ridge Avenue. The experience fueled Montgomery's love of sports, which ultimately led him to the Phillies in '71. The current Phillies chairman and former team president has had a tremendous impact on the Delaware Valley over his 48 years in professional baseball. On Sunday, the city of Philadelphia thanked him. It renamed Montgomery's self-described "Field of Dreams" as "David P. Montgomery Field."
"I feel very blessed," Montgomery said on Friday morning. "I just hope and pray that others get the opportunity that I did. But as it has happened to me so many times in my life, I just happened to be in the right place at the right time, with parents that cared."
In February, the Phillies renamed their indoor practice facility at Carpenter Complex in Clearwater, Fla., the David P. Montgomery Baseball Performance Center. It is mentioned to Montgomery that buildings and fields are not named after people unless they are considered positive, inspirational forces in the community.
"What hits me is how fortunate I've been," Montgomery said. "You just pinch yourself and say, 'How lucky can you be?' I was lucky. It's staggering. I remember throwing down a pillow and practicing sliding like Richie Ashburn in my back porch when I was 9, 10 or 11 years old. Fast forward 15 years later, and I'm working with Richie Ashburn. You can't describe how fortunate and blessed I've been as far as opportunities."
Montgomery was 10 years old in May 1957. He was one of 15 children to play for the Andorra A's, which was one of four teams in 21st Ward Junior League Baseball. They played on Daisy Field, which community leaders built from scratch.
Two years later, the league expanded to eight teams. Montgomery was too old to play at that point, but he spent his summers cutting the grass, lining the field, putting down the bases and keeping score at the Al Pearlman Sports Complex on the other side of Roxborough.
Montgomery made $2 per game.
"My first job in baseball was when when this league expanded from four teams to eight teams," Montgomery said. "But it's pretty special to see the field that you played on 61 years ago still standing. This allows me to reflect. I got involved with the Philadelphia Youth Sports Collaborative. Their goal is to give everybody in the city an opportunity to participate in something after school, those hours between the end of school and the time parents get home.
"When I reflect, I realize how important it was for me to have all of these opportunities to play ball. So many people in our city don't have that opportunity. To make one field better is a start. But the goal is to give everybody in the city an opportunity to participate in something. But I am pleased. I am pleased because I care about the community. When I do reflect upon it, it was an amazing experience."
Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.