Greg Montalbano remembered at Greg's Field
Westborough – Four months of planning and fund-raising culminated in the dedication of Greg's Field, formerly known as the Upton Road Ball Field. Hundreds of people gathered around a plaque bearing the likeness of Greg Montalbano June 12. Family, friends, dignitaries and residents joined together to recall the talents and heroism of the late Westborough ballplayer who succumbed to testicular cancer Aug. 21, 2009, just three days short of his 32nd birthday.
Born and raised in Westborough, Montalbano quickly gained acclaim as a star baseball pitcher. He dominated the field at St. John's High School and later at Northeastern University, where he earned All American Honors. It was during his time in college when Montalbano was first diagnosed with cancer.
Despite chemotherapy and surgery, he continued to play baseball. In 1999, Montalbano was drafted by the Boston Red Sox. In 2001, he was named the organization's Minor League Pitcher of the Year. And just when it looked like his career was blooming, his health declined and kept him from ever taking the mound at Fenway Park.
Recreation Department Director Frank DiSiata was one of Montalbano's first Little League coaches, heading his team when Greg was just 6years old. “We knew he had a gift right away – as soon as we saw him play,” DiSiata saidd. He explained that Montalbano first pitched on the Upton Road Ball Fields, where he would spend most of his childhood playing the game he loved.
DiSiata spearheaded the effort for the memorial. In February, he called the Montalbano family to share his plan.
“They were thrilled with the idea,” he said.
Greg's sister, Kristen, recalled the morning she and her mother took that call.
“We hung up the phone and both stood there and cried,” she remembered, breaking up slightly and holding back tears as she shared the story with the gathered crowd.
Kristen and her parents, Sharon and Andy Montalbano, helped lead the dedication ceremony. They took the opportunity to recognize those involved in the fund-raising and organization. They shook hands, shared hugs and told stories to the many people surrounding them throughout the morning event.
To date, organizers of the Greg Montalbano Gift Fund have raised $13,500.
“This is way over our expectations,” DiSiata said. “It is our intention to keep the fund alive and open.” Approximately $9,000 has been used for the field monument and sign. The remaining money will be allocated to sponsor a Little League team in GregMontalbano's honor and to maintain the ball field.
The ceremony included town dignitaries, a poignant letter from former teammate and Tampa Bay Rays player Carlos Pena, and a backdrop of Little League players who stopped a game to watch the dedication.
The ceremony closed with a touching tribute from Montalbano's best friend Pat Fallon. Fallon engaged the crowd by sharing childhood memories. He then joined the Montalbano family in unveiling the large stone and plaque. At that time, the crowd grew still as he read the inscription.
The monument is situated in the southwest corner of the ballfield at the junction of Bowman Street and Upton Road. Behind home plate, a new sign is posted which reads “Greg's Field, The Greg Montalbano Memorial Field.”
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