CHICAGO — Cole Hamels received a special delivery Thursday morning.
He is now in possession of one of the memorial patches that the Phillies are wearing on their game jerseys to honor David Montgomery.
The beloved former club president died earlier this month after a five-year battle with cancer. His initials — DPM — are on the patch that the Phillies wear on their right sleeves.
Hamels requested one and Chris Ware of the Phillies' communications office delivered it before Thursday's game at Wrigley Field.
Hamels said he would love to have worn the patch when he faced the Phillies on Wednesday night. But he now wears a Chicago Cubs uniform and major league baseball rules prevent that.
“David wouldn’t have wanted that anyway,” the pitcher said with a laugh. “He would have said, ‘Don’t get fined for me.’ "
Hamels said he would display the patch in a special place.
“It’s going to be in my locker and I’m going to be staring at it every day,” he said. “It’s important. I’m thankful that I get to play the game of baseball, but what David taught me has made me a better person and man. I got to grow up [in Philadelphia]. The lessons that I learned and the maturity I gained had a lot to do with David.”
Montgomery led the Phillies from 1997 to 2014. Hamels was drafted by the Phillies in 2002 and was World Series MVP in 2008. He was traded as part of a rebuild in the summer of 2015.
During his time in Philadelphia, Hamels did more than pitch. He and his wife started a foundation dedicated to charitable causes in the community, particularly those that benefit children and education. Though Hamels now works elsewhere, he continues to do charitable works in the area.
“David kind of introduced me to the power of a platform,” Hamels said. “He helped Jimmy (Rollins), Chase (Utley) and Ryan (Howard) and I to understand what charity is and how to do it, and the Phillies were all about the hands-on in helping us do it throughout a season and providing us with opportunities to make an impact. That’s something that will always go further than baseball.”
When the City of Philadelphia honored Montgomery by naming a Roxborough ball field after him in November, Hamels was there. He actually threw out the ceremonial first pitch.
Hamels is 35 now but still has bullets in his left arm. He will be a free agent after this season. He still owns a home in the Philadelphia area.
“I want to play a couple more years,” he said.
What about finishing his career right back where it started?
“Yeah, but they don’t give multi-year deals anymore to old guys,” he said with a laugh.
Growing serious, he said, “It’s always a thought of mine. I’ll never try to alienate or write somebody off. The team wants to win and I want to win and that’s why I was really lucky that (the Cubs) picked up my option because I know that we have a team that can win and I want to be a part of that.
"I know Philly is finally getting into that where they can make a five-, six-, seven-year run like we did and taking back that division. To be a part of something that special, I would consider it, but I know that I have to play well and everything has to fit. As long as I take care of business on the field, I think that allows the options to be there.”
Philadelphia might be a good one.
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