North Philadelphia native Jose Rivera is the executive director and founder of the Born to Play Athletic Association, now renamed Feliz Filadelfia, that manages youth programming at the Hammond Fields and has been instrumental to their revitalization.
A lifelong resident of Philadelphia, Jose grew up in Hunting Park and later moved to Olney. Jose first discovered the Hammond Fields in 2015 while walking with his son Jose Jr. and his dog Max around the neighborhood. He was shocked to see that the baseball fields had been neglected and were no longer in use. An avid baseball fan, Jose inherited a love of the sport from his father, and he previously coached baseball at the Max Myers and Lawncrest Recreation Centers.
Jose immediately saw the potential for the Hammond Fields, and after learning how they had served generations of baseball teams from the community, he was compelled to launch their next chapter. In the summer of 2015, he started Born to Play with 12 kids and a dream of creating a safe place for youth to learn, grow, and play at the Hammond Fields. The program grew quickly from there, and within one year of opening, Born to Play’s Olney Angels Baseball Team won the Championship in the Bronze Division (9/10 Age Group) of the Northeast Peanut League. In 2016, Jose received The Coach of the Year Award from the Phillies RBI Program in recognition of achievements with Born to Play.
Today, with support from Phillies RBI, Congressman Brendan Boyle, Councilwoman Cherelle Parker, the Drumcliff Foundation, and many others, Born to Play has grown to well over [100 youth from Olney, Hunting Park, North Philadelphia, Lower Northeast, and beyond who play baseball, softball, tee-ball, and flag-football at the Hammond Fields.