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Arizona Diamondbacks dedicate Ronald McDonald House playground

Arizona Diamondbacks President and CEO Derrick Hall (black shirt) and catcher Miguel Montero (striped shirt, center) open the new playground at a Ronald McDonald House in Phoenix. (KTAR Photo/Bob McClay)

PHOENIX -- Many times when children are hospitalized, their parents and siblings need a place to stay that is close to the hospital.

The Ronald Mcdonald House in Phoenix gives them that opportunity. It offers bedrooms and even a kitchen for the families.

It also has a playground. Thanks to a $50,000 donation from the Arizona Diamondbacks and catcher Miguel Montero, the playground has been completely redone. It offers a jungle gym, slide, a crawl tube, tic-tac-toe, hopscotch and more.

Diamondbacks President Derrick Hall said it might look a little familiar.

"We have a replica of Chase Field's center field scoreboard, and the clock as well, so that these kids can actually feel that they're in Chase field or a big league ballpark while they're playing," he said.

Hall joked that there is no swimming pool. Yet. If they do build one in the future, no Los Angeles Dodgers will be allowed in it. That's a reference to the Dodgers jumping into the Chase field pool when they clinched the National League Western Division.

Montero said that the Ronald McDonald house has always had a special place in his heart ever since he was a player in the minor leagues in Missoula, Montana.

"I stayed with a house family there," he said. "I had a house sister who was 14- or 15-years-old at the time. She had brain cancer, so they used to take her to Salt Lake City (for treatment)."

The family stayed at the Ronald McDonald house there.

Montero decided he wanted to raise money for the house, but this was long before he had the big-time paycheck as a major league player. So he and his Missoula Osprey teammates collected caps from aluminum cans and gave them to the house so that the charity could sell them to keep the doors open.

His "house sister" died, but Montero vowed to keep supporting the charity because it's worth it, he said. Especially on days like Friday, when the renovated playground was dedicated and kids played on it for the first time.

"For me, just to be here, and see the kids smiling, see them playing, it's just a great feeling," he said. "It's made my day. It's made my month. It's made my year."

About the Author

Years with the company: I started on January 2, 2006.

Education: I was born in San Antonio, Texas, but we moved to Phoenix when I was one-year-old in 1957. I grew up here and graduated from Alhambra High School and attended Phoenix College.

Family: I am married to my wife Rene', who is a librarian in the Washington school district. During free time, I may be found playing basketball in the driveway with my son, Devin. He's also keeping me busy with school, Little League, and playing in chess tournaments around the Valley.

Favorite food: Lots of favorite food, but our favorite restaurant is Fajitas.

Favorite spot in Arizona: The Little America Hotel in Flagstaff.

Favorite news memory: We have to go back to October 15, 1979. I was a country music air personality at KROP Radio in Brawley, California, when we had a 6.7 earthquake. Thankfully, there were no deaths and only minor injuries, but the entire community was pretty freaked out and listening to the station on their transistor radios. I would not want to go through an earthquake again, but it sure was a great night to work in radio and see how it can make a difference in people's lives.

First job: Working as a stringer for 'The Arizona Republic' at high school football games. My first real job was flipping burgers at the old Sandy's Hamburgers at 51st Avenue and Indian School Road. My first radio job was as announcer at KALJ radio in Yuma in 1977.

First concert: Doug Oldham gospel concert in the 1970s at the old East High School in Phoenix.

Favorite sports team: Phoenix Roadrunners minor league hockey. My dad took me to a game when I was in grade school, and I was hooked. I wanted to be a radio hockey play-by-play man. I used to take my cassette recorder and sit up in the rafters of the Coliseum and do play-by-play. It was great later in life to also take my son to Roadrunners games. Too bad the team just folded, I'll miss them. (Going to the Coyotes is fun, but they're not "my" team.)

Outside interests: My family and I are active in our church - Northern Hills Community Church in Phoenix. We enjoy going to movies, sporting events, and like to vacation at the Beach Cottages in the Pacific Beach area of San Diego. And I love to play catch, basketball, football with my son.


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