Obituary: David Montgomery (1946-2019)

R.I.P. to David P. Montgomery, a president and chairman of the Philadelphia Phillies. Montgomery, who had been involved with the team for more than 45 years, died on May 8 after a five-year battle with cancer. He was 72 years old.

“David was one of Philadelphia’s most influential business and civic leaders in his generation,” said Phillies managing partner John Middleton in a statement. “For 25 years, he has been an invaluable business partner and, more importantly, an invaluable friend. He was beloved by everyone at the Phillies. Leigh and I are saddened beyond words at David’s passing and extend our love and sympathy to Lyn, his children and grandchildren.”

David Montgomery was born on June 26, 1946 in Philadelphia. The Phillies were more than just a baseball opportunity for Montgomery; they were his hometown team. He attended many Phillies games growing up and once saw Sandy Koufax throw a no-hitter at Connie Mack Stadium. He was a history major at the University of Pennsylvania and, after a stint in the Army Reserve, got a master’s degree in marketing from Wharton.

Rob Manfred, MLB commissioner, said in a statement that Montgomery “never forgot his days as a fan at Connie Mack Stadium, and he carried those lessons to Veterans Stadium and Citizens Bank Park. David’s approach to running the franchise and serving its fans was to treat everyone like family. He set an outstanding example in Philadelphia and throughout the game.”

Montgomery got his start with the Phillies in 1971 as a sales apprentice, working in the ticket office during the day and helping to operate the scoreboard at night. He never looked back. Not only did the Phillies provide him with business opportunities, but also gave him some exciting baseball memories.

“In ’72, Lefty [Steve Carlton] shows up and wins some games. The farm system begins to produce. Luzinski, Schmitty, Bowa… and the business of the sport kept getting broader. There was always some need,” he recalled in 1995.

Montgomery worked his way up the ranks, to marketing director to director of sales and then to executive vice president in 1981, when Bill Giles purchased the team. He was named chief operating officer in 1992 and then was promoted to general partner, president and CEO in 1997.

Looking back at Montgomery’s time with the Phillies, he never had the same name recognition of some of baseball’s other top executives, but nevertheless, he was a key part of the negotiations during baseball’s labor negotiations. He was ranked eighth on the 1995 list of Baseball America‘s top 25 power brokers.

“He doesn’t have an ego that needs to be fed,” said Richard Deats, a friend of Montgomery and the Phillies VP for ticket operations, in a 1995 Philadelphia Daily News article. “I think he feels like he’s better if he’s working behind the scenes.”

During his time at CEO, the Phillies undertook the construction of Citizens Bank Park. From 2007 through 2011, the team won five consecutive NL East titles, two National League pennants and the 2008 World Series. The team built a $4 million indoor climate-controlled training center at their Spring Training site in Clearwater, Fla. It’s used year-round for training and rehabilitation and was renamed the David P. Montgomery Baseball Performance Center in March 2018.

Montgomery took a leave of absence from the team in 2014 following a diagnosis of jaw cancer. He returned as chairman in January 2015. He continued his duties through this season and attended the Phillies Opening Day game this year.

“David was truly a great man. I have never known a person with more integrity or who truly cared so much about everyone who worked for the Phillies,” said the team’s chairman emeritus, Bill Giles. “He and I worked hand-in-hand for over 30 years. During that time, I saw his unparalleled love for his family, the Phillies and the team’s fans, and of course, the City of Philadelphia. David was a big reason why the Phillies won 12 division championships, five National League championships and two World Series championships in that time. He was a fierce competitor in everything he did, including his battle to fight his illness. He will be tremendously missed by all who had the pleasure of knowing him.”

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