As long as I knew you—39 years to be precise—I’ve always thought of you as the “show-up-ing-est” guy in the world. You’ve been there for me and for your city in such important ways for so long that I and countless others are feeling your loss deeply right now.
This publication is called The Philadelphia Citizen, and unknowingly its founders might have named it after you, because no one embodied that rubric better than you. More than any sports team owner in our history, you always showed up for your city. In the outpouring of love since your passing, tributes have flooded in from Major League Baseball executives, baseball superstars, and Philadelphia civic leaders. But just as touching was the gratitude expressed by the countless nonprofits who have made our city better through the years with your help. Organizations like Need In Deed, which helps students serve their community by equipping them with problem-solving skills, and the Children’s Scholarship Fund.
No one served our city better or more faithfully than you, and you’ve always been a role model in the most important way. You taught me how to treat people with humility and kindness, with candor and humor, with courtesy and respect.
It was no surprise, then, that when I came to you last year with an idea for a college aid program for underserved kids in Philadelphia, you connected me with the great people of Philadelphia Futures. Now, in tandem with that organization, we are about to launch our first PACE Scholars program, as an homage to the vast contributions you’ve made to this community.
On a personal level, you first showed up in my life in October 1980 at the offices of Major League Baseball. I had been hired to write the script for the World Series film, to be entitled “Worth The Wait”, chronicling the Phillies’ first title in the team’s 97-year existence. You were there to check for fairness in the script, but when I whispered to you of my life-long fandom of the Phils, I suggested it would be the Kansas City Royals who’d have to worry about fairness, not the Phils. You smiled and our friendship was born.
For more than a decade thereafter, I produced the Phillies highlight films, and you always showed up for me to critique the films in-progress and offer constructive suggestions. Of course, our most memorable “notes session” was over the phone in the late 80’s, when you were watching an early version of the highlight film from the comfort of a couch on a Saturday afternoon in the Poconos. A couple minutes went by without any comments from you, and then I heard your heavy breathing and realized you’d fallen asleep. That always felt to me like a four-star review.
As long as I knew you—39 years to be precise—I’ve always thought of you as the “show-up-ing-est” guy in the world.
When I moved to Los Angeles in 1990, I called you and said the one big thing that worried me about the move was my ability to raise my kids as Phillies fans from the wrong side of the country. But when Georgia and Lucas came along, you made Jack Russell Stadium in Clearwater and The Vet in Philly their homes-away-from-home. Invariably, you showed up to treat them like family, as you seemed to do for everyone. As a result, the two kids, now 26 and 20, bleed Phillies red.
My own Phillie love began in that fateful 1964 season, when my Dad began taking us to Connie Mack Stadium. When he died suddenly a dozen years ago, you showed up for all of us, again making us feel like an extension of the Phillies family.
And despite your weakening condition, you showed up at the Phillies Opening Day game this past March. I had the privilege of sitting next to you in your box as you filled out your customary scorecard. Little did any of us know that it’d be the last one you’d ever fill out.
Several weeks later, it was my turn to show up for you, when I heard you’d entered a rehab facility. I wanted to tell you what I’ve long felt— that no one served our city better or more faithfully than you, that no one in the world has given my family more joy than you. And that you’d always been a role model to me in the most important way. You taught me how to treat people with humility and kindness, with candor and humor, with courtesy and respect. And I wanted you to know how much we looked forward to you and Lynnie joining us at my daughter Georgia’s wedding later this year. You gave me a fist bump from your hospital bed and said in a barely audible voice, “September 7. I’ll be there.”
Yes, you will, David, yes you will. We will toast you that night and hopefully toast you again the following month, when the Phillies hoist another World Series trophy with those DPM patches on their sleeves.
You were always there for all of us. And you always will be.
Philadelphia native Michael Tollin is Co-Chairman of Mandalay Sports Media and an Emmy-winning and Academy Award-nominated filmmaker. His credits include the films Radio, Varsity Blues, and Coach Carter; and the TV shows Smallville, One Tree Hill and Arli$$.Daisy Field in Roxborough was renamed in honor of David P. Montgomery, Chairman of the Philadelphia Phillies, on Sunday, November 4, 2018. Montgomery started with the Phillies in 1971 as a season-ticket salesman. He worked his way up to becoming marketing director, sales director and eventually the club president. Brianna Spause / Philadelphia Parks & Recreation