May 08, 2019
Phillies Chairman and former president David Montgomery died Wednesday morning at the age of 72 after a five-year battle with cancer, the Phillies announced.
Montgomery, a lifelong Philadelphia resident who grew up in Roxborough, was known for his fierce loyalty to the fans, front office staff, and players. He started his career in baseball in 1971, working in the ticket office and and helping operate the Phillies scoreboard at night.
He worked his way up the ladder until he was promoted to president, general partner, and chief executive officer by 1997.
“I was just blessed with opportunities,” he told the Pennsylvania Gazette in 1999, according to the Phillies announcement about Montgomery's death posted on the team's website Wednesday morning. “It never felt like a job to me. I was just pursuing my passion in sports.”
Montgomery played key roles in the Phillies' transition from Veterans Stadium to Citizens Bank Park in 2004 and the teams successful stretch of seasons between 2007 and 2011, when the Phillies won five straight National League East titles, two pennants and the 2008 World Series.
Among Montgomery's long list of career accomplishments is one that won't be fully realized for another seven years: Citizens Bank Park hosting the 2026 MLB All-Star Game. The year of the game coincides with the 250th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence in Philadelphia and what is expected to be a yearlong celebration around the United States.
Montgomery had lobbied MLB officials for Citizens Bank Park to be the location for the game since the ballpark opened in 2004. Because of his health, he did not attend last month's official announcement about the all-star game, but MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred acknowledged Montgomery's passion and persistence.
“I really don’t believe we would have made this announcement today without David being the driving force behind it." Manfred said of Montgomery. "He has that quiet ability to persuade, and because he’s such a good person, he’s very difficult to say no to. It’s a tribute to his devotion to the city that he took this project on.”
MLB.com reported that Manfred continued to praise the Phillies executive, calling Montgomery one of his best friends, a mentor and adviser.
In August 2014, Montgomery took a leave of absence as president and CEO following his cancer diagnosis. Less than a year later, he returned to the organization as chairman and remained in that role until his death.
Phillies chairman emeritus, Bill Giles, released this statement on Montgomery's death.
“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. 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.”
According to the Phillies, funeral arrangements are pending.