Phillies Chair DAVID MONTGOMERY died this morning at 72 after having been "diagnosed with jaw-bone cancer" in '14, according to Frank Fitzpatrick of the PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER. Montgomery, employed by the Phillies for 47 years, was hired by the team as a sales apprentice in '71, and "ascended rapidly through the Phillies front office" before becoming president and general partner in '97. He led the organization until January '15, when Managing Partner JOHN MIDDLETON "became the face of the group that has owned the club" since '81. Montgomery was "criticized early on as a buttoned-down tightwad, but his reputation improved when the Phillies did." Montgomery's tenure with the Phillies "brought five division titles, two pennants" and the '08 World Series, plus the construction of Citizens Bank Park and a $2.5B TV deal. Montgomery "preferred the background to the spotlight." Even as he "became a powerful advocate for such landmark changes in baseball as wild-card playoffs and revenue-sharing, he did so behind the scenes." Montgomery’s roots as a Philadelphian and a "lifelong Phillies fan were evident" in Citizens Bank Park’s design. He "insisted on a Hall of Fame level that showcased the city’s baseball history and on various homages to former Phillies greats" (PHILLY.com, 5/8).
PHILLIE FOR LIFE: In Philadelphia, John George notes Montgomery "remained active" in his role with the Phillies "until his passing." He attended many of the team’s '19 Spring Training games in Clearwater, "as well as this year’s home opener." When MLB announced the Phillies would host the '26 All-Star Game, the "early disclosure was done as a favor to Montgomery, whose health was failing" (BIZJOURNALS.com, 5/8). Also in Philadelphia, Emily Rolen notes Montgomery was “known for his fierce loyalty” to the Phillies’ fans, front office staff and players (PHILLYVOICE.com, 5/8). Montgomery was “always thinking about someone else and that showed in the way he ran” the Phillies. He “believed that the organization’s responsibility transcended what happened on the field" (NBCSPORTSPHILADELPHIA.com, 5/8).
FOND FAREWELL: Tributes quickly poured in on social media as news of Montgomery's death broke this morning. The Athletic's Jayson Stark: "Baseball has never had a classier, more dignified, more respected, more upbeat ambassador." Twins President Dave St. Peter: "David was a true statesman while always displaying class and an unmatched love for the City of Philadelphia. ... He made @MLB better." The N.Y. Times' Tyler Kepner: "Nobody in baseball was more respected and beloved by so many different constituencies." USA Today's Bob Nightengale: "He will forever be remembered as a Philadelphia civic treasure." Former Marlins President David Samson: "David Montgomery always put the sport and the fan ahead of everything else. In an industry replete with ego and narcissism, David had none. RIP. And thank you."