Tag Archives: Connie Mack Stadium

RIP David Montgomery, Phillies minority owner and club chairman

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David Montgomery was a Phillies driving force for nearly five decades

The Philadelphia Phillies announced this morning that club chairman and minority owner David Montgomery has passed away at the age of 72 years. Montgomery had battled cancer for more than five years.

In an official release from the team (see below Twitter link), majority owner John Middleton stated the following:
David was one of Philadelphia’s most influential business and civic leaders in his generation. 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.
Born and raised on Pembrook Road in the Roxborough section of Philadelphia, Montgomery graduated from both William Penn Charter High School and the University of Pennsylvania. He then continued his education at The Wharton School, where he graduated in 1970.
While at Penn, Montgomery was a classmate and friend of future Philadelphia Mayor and Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell. The two would attend Phillies games together at old Connie Mack Stadium, and per a 2008 piece by Tyler Kepner in the New York Times, they were typical Philly fans. Kepner wrote:
“They would try to eat all the food that $5 could buy — back when hot dogs cost 50 cents — as they shared their thoughts with the players. “I remember one time riding Turk Farrell,” Rendell said, referring to a Phillies reliever of the 1960s. “He got so mad he looked like he was going to throw a ball at us, and Turk could really hum the ball. We were scared to death.””
After they graduated, Rendell tried to get Montgomery to apply for a job with basketball’s Philadelphia 76ers franchise. Instead, in 1971 Montgomery got a job in the sales office of baseball’s Philadelphia Phillies through a connection with the club’s former pitching great, Robin Roberts, as well as through his connections made while coaching with the Germantown Academy football team.

Phillies chairman and minority owner David Montgomery passed away earlier today after a six-year battle with cancer. (Centpacrr)
In that first job with the team he sold season and group ticket packages. Montgomery was also briefly the scoreboard operator at Veteran’s Stadium in the early years of that facility.
Within a few years he became the Phillies director of sales and marketing, and then in 1980 became the head of the Phillies business department. That same year, the franchise celebrated the first World Series victory in its then 97-year history.
In 1981, Montgomery joined a group headed by Bill Giles to organize the purchase of the Phillies from the Carpenter family. Montgomery was named as the executive vice-president following that purchase, and then was elevated to the role of chief operating officer in 1992.
In 1994, Montgomery acquired an even greater ownership interest in the team. Then in 1997 he was named to replace Giles as the 14th team president in franchise history. He was the first Philly native to run the club in six decades.
In the club’s official release (below Twitter link), Giles stated the following:
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…He will be tremendously missed by all who had the pleasure of knowing him.
Cancer first affected Montgomery in the operation of the team when he left on an interim basis for treatment of jaw cancer in August 2014. After returning in January 2015, Montgomery took on the title of chairman, which he held until his passing, with Pat Gillick replacing him as the club president.
During his long career in baseball, Montgomery also served as the vice chair of the Board of Directors of Major League Baseball Enterprises (formerly MLB Properties) and was a member of the MLB Executive Council. He was a member of the MLB Schedule Committee, the Labor Policy Committee, and the Commissioner’s Special Committee for On-Field Matters.
Last March, the Phillies named their new indoor facility at the Carpenter Complex, their spring training home in Clearwater, Florida, as the “David P. Montgomery Baseball Performance Center” in his honor. On the occasion of that honor, Montgomery was quoted as follows in a piece by Matt Breen for Philly.com:
The word is overwhelmed but the reality is that it was special that the whole organization was here because, as you know, that’s what I believe in. I believe that in whatever capacity you work for us, you determine the Phillies family. I believe that.”
This past November, the former ‘Daisy Field’ ball fields on which Montgomery played during his Little League days with the Andorra A’s out in Wissahickon were re-named in his honor as well.

Montgomery is survived by his wife Lyn; their three children, and three grandchildren. Memorial services are pending, and we will pass those along at our social media sites when available. Our entire staff joins with all of Phillies Nation in mourning the passing of not just a great baseball man, but an outstanding Philadelphian.

Philadelphia’s First MLB All-Star Game

The first All-Star Game ever played in Philadelphia was also a first for Major League Baseball. 
The game, played at Shibe Park on July 13th, 1943 was the first midsummer classic to be scheduled at night.
Being a “first” involving the illumination of a ball game in the dark was nothing new for Shibe, which had also been the site of the first-ever night game in the history of the American League back in May of 1939.
Shibe Park was the first steel-and-concrete ball park in the game’s history, and was home to the American League’s Philadelphia (now Oakland) Athletics from 1909-1954. It was located in a neighborhood of mostly Irish immigrants then known affectionately as Swampoodle.
The then-34 year old facility could be found even more specifically along Lehigh Avenue and north, between 20th and 21st Streets. 
In the spring of that 1938 season, the park had taken in a new tenant. The National League’s Phillies moved in that year from old Baker Bowl, which sat just 5 blocks away at Broad & Huntingdon.
The Phillies legendary Hall of Fame outfielder and broadcaster, Richie Ashburn, would say of Shibe: “It looked like a ballpark. It smelled like a ballpark. It had a feeling and a heartbeat, a personality that was all baseball.
Though the two teams would share Shibe Park for 17 seasons, it was the A’s playing hosts for the game, and so the AL would be the home team. 
And so it was that on a warm, overcast July evening in the middle of World War II, and with rain threatening, baseball’s best available players migrated to North Philly.
On Mutual Radio, the game was broadcast by announcers Red Barber, Mel Allen, and Bill Corum all across the United States. 
The managers for the two teams were two of baseball’s very best, representing what have become the game’s preeminent franchise in each league.
All-Star Game
A game program from the 1943 MLB All-Star Game played at Shibe Park in Philadelphia.
For the National League, it was Billy Southworth of the Saint Louis Cardinals. 
Southworth, in his 2nd stint as the team skipper, took over and led the team to a 49-20 record down the stretch in 1940, salvaging a 3rd place finish out of what had seemed a lost season, and in 1941 he guided them to 97 wins and a 2nd place finish.
That start of the second act of Southworth’s Cardinals managerial career was only setting the stage. 
His teams from 1941-43 would win at least 105 games each season, taking all three NL Pennants and winning two World Series crowns. The 1942 Series win had earned him this nod as skipper of the NL All-Stars.
For the American League, it was legendary New York Yankees manager Joe McCarthy at the helm. 
McCarthy was a hometown boy, born and raised in Philadelphia. He idolized the A’s 62-year old owner/manager Connie Mack, whose name Shibe Park would eventually take for its own as Connie Mack Stadium.
McCarthy knew how to handle stars, serving as the Yankees skipper from 1931-1946 during the careers of such legends as Babe RuthLou GehrigBill DickeyJoe DiMaggio and more. 
His 1942 Yanks’ squad had lost to Southworth’s Cards in five games after winning the opener of the Fall Classic.
The two teams, and the two managers, were on a collision course for a rematch in October of 1943. But before they would get to that business, there was this summer exhibition under the lights taking center stage in the baseball universe.
As told by Baseball Almanac, McCarthy was “publicly accused of being flagrantly partial” to his Yankees players in the selection of his starting lineup for the All-Star Game in previous years. 
As a reply to those accusations, McCarthy would not use any of five Yankees sitting on his bench in the entire game.
In just his 2nd full season, and with fewer than 1,000 plate appearances in the big leagues, it was Southworth’s young 22-year old star outfielder Stan Musial who would get his NL team on the board first.
Appearing in the first of what would be 24 straight All-Star Games, Musial knocked in Chicago Cubs 3rd baseman Stan Hack to put the NL up 1-0 in the top of the 1st inning.
In the bottom of the 2nd, the American Leaguers answered when Boston Red Sox 2nd baseman Bobby Doerr drove a 3-run homer out to left field off NL starting pitcher Mort Cooper of the Cardinals. 
Left fielder Dick Wakefield of the Detroit Tigers ripped an RBI double off Cooper in the 3rd, making it a 4-1 lead for the AL side.

It looked like a ballpark. It smelled like a ballpark. It had a feeling and a heartbeat, a personality that was all baseball.” ~ Whitey Ashburn, on Shibe Park

Cincinnati Reds’ pitcher Johnny Vander Meer, who five years earlier as a 23-year old in his first big league season had set a record still never equaled by pitching back-to-back no-hitters, was victimized by the AL in the 5th for an unearned run thanks to an error by catcher Ernie Lombardi of the New York Giants, pushing the Junior circuit’s lead up to 5-1.
The elder DiMaggio, Vince would star in the 1943 All-Star Game after coming in as a pinch-hitter while brother Joe served during WWII.
At that point, the Vince DiMaggio show began. The older brother of Yankee star Joe DiMaggio, who was away in the war effort, Vince was in the middle of a successful 5-year run in a Pittsburgh Pirates uniform.
DiMaggio had entered the game as a pinch-hitter for yet another Cardinal, centerfielder Harry Walker
Staying in the game, DiMaggio would go 3-3 and score a pair of runs, including on his own 9th inning solo homerun off Red Sox pitcher Tex Hughson.
The homer by Vince D cut the AL lead down to 5-3, but Hughson, who had a nice 8-year career with Boston during the 1940’s, settled down and retired the NL stars, preserving the victory for his team and earning a Save for himself.
Washington Senators pitcher Dutch Leonard, who started for the AL and went three solid innings, would get credit for the Win, which was the American Leaguers 8th in the 11 All-Star Games played to that point in history.
The appreciative Philly crowd let out a cheer with the final out of a game that took just over two hours to play. 
While they had missed Joe D, Ted Williams, and others who were off in the war effort, they had gotten to see some great stars, including aging Giants’ slugger Mel Ott as a pinch-hitter in one of his final All-Star appearances.
Much as with tonight’s 2015 MLB All-Star Game, the Phillies had just one lone representative in 1943. 
That player was journeyman 1st baseman Babe Dahlgren, who was in his lone season with the Phils, and who was playing for his 8th of what would ultimately be 10 teams during a 12-year career in the majors.
The host Athletics also had just one lone rep on the AL squad, 1st baseman Dick Siebert, who would hit just one homer in 558 at-bats for the A’s during that 1943 season. Siebert played eight seasons with the A’s in an 11-year MLB career.
It was the first MLB All-Star Game ever played in Philadelphia. It would not be the last, for either the city, or for the ballpark. 
Nearly a decade later, in 1952, the Phillies would be the hosts at Shibe in a 3-2 NL win that was also affected by the weather. That one would, in fact, be shortened to just five innings by the rains. 
In both 1976 and 1996, the Phillies would host National League victories at Veteran’s Stadium in South Philly.

Philography: Dick Allen

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Dick Allen starred with the Phillies in the 1960’s and returned in the mid-70’s

Dick Allen belongs in the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Let’s get that out of the way with right off the bat. I’m one of them, the growing list of supporters for this man to be enshrined there as a player.

He is a finalist on the ‘Golden Era’ ballot, which selects an old-timer once every three years. The results for that slot will be announced in a little over a week from now.

Allen was born on March 8th, 1942 in the middle of World War II out in Wampum, Pennsylvania, a tiny borough less than an hour from Pittsburgh, not far from the west-central state line.

Raised in a rural part of the state, Allen developed a love of horses early in life from his father. It would be a love that he would carry into and through adulthood, right up to the present day.

One of five boys raised in a mostly white town, he doesn’t remember much personal experience with prejudice, despite the 1950’s still being a time of segregation in much of the country.
Allen and his brothers were tremendous athletes, helping their local school sports programs become regional powers, which went a long way towards their being accepted.

Dick and his brothers were especially talented as basketball players, and two of those brothers, Hank and Ron, would each earn college basketball scholarships before eventually turning to baseball and each briefly reaching the Majors themselves.

Dick became a baseball fan and player after watching some of the top Negro League games and players in his early years as a boy, and then following the career of the great Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder Roberto Clemente, his first real baseball idol.

After an aggressive push by one of their scouts, Allen signed with the Philadelphia Phillies, but almost immediately had problems with the organization when they decided, without his input, to begin referring to him in official organizational materials as “Richie” Allen.

His own pro baseball career would begin at just age 18, with Elmira in the NY-Penn League, and over the next couple of years his prodigious power allowed him to quickly rise through the Phils minor league system. In 1963, after a salary power play with Phils GM John Quinn failed, Allen was shipped to Arkansas for another year in the minors, and here he was subjected to his first real taste of extended racism from fans.

After destroying minor league pitching for 33 homeruns in that 1963 season, Allen eventually won over many of the fans who had begun the year vilifying him. He finally got the call up to the big club in September of that year. Playing in parts of 10 games, he got to experience being a part of the best Phillies team in a decade. The club finished that year with 87 wins, good for 4th place in the National League.

The 1964 season dawned with great optimism in Philadelphia. The Phils had already shown they were becoming competitive the previous year, and now would be adding the mega-hyped rookie Allen for a full season for the first time. His powerful presence in the lineup was felt immediately.

In that ’64 campaign, Allen produced a season that would result in his being named the NL Rookie of the Year. He also would come in 7th in the NL MVP voting for a season in which he hit .318 with a .382 on-base percentage, crushed 29 homers, 38 doubles, knocked in 91 runs, and scored 125 runs.

Unfortunately, that 1964 season is largely remembered in Philadelphia for the historic losing skid by the team at the end of the year. Holding a 6 1/2 game lead in the NL Pennant race with just 10 games remaining, the Phils blew it all. The collapse was no fault of Allen’s, however. He hit .442 with 3 homers, 12 runs, and 11 rbi in those final 10 games. But it wasn’t enough to halt the team’s unforgettable collapse.

Over the next three seasons, Allen continued to develop his game, becoming one of the most domainant and feared hitters in all of baseball. He was an NL All-Star each season from 1965-67. He received MVP votes each of those years as well, finishing as high as 4th in the 1966 balloting.

Allen tailed off a bit in 1968 and ’69, likely still recovering from a freak career-threatening hand injury that ended his 1967 season early. He had hurt the hand while fixing his car one day. Still, his power remained, and he topped the 30 homerun mark in each year.

In his first 6+ seasons in a Phillies uniform, from his September callup in ’63 through the 1969 season, Allen hit for an even .300 batting average with a .380 on-base percentage. He had 966 hits, 177 homeruns, 544 rbi, and 591 runs. And he was just entering his prime years, as the 1970 season would see him turn 28 years old.

Unfortunately for the Phillies, he wouldn’t play any of his prime here in the City of Brotherly Love. Following that near-miss campaign of 1964, the Phillies did not contend again. From 1965-67 they continued to record winning records, but never finished higher than 4th.

In 1968, the club slid back to 76-86, the franchise’ first losing record in years. Many in the town’s fan base turned on it’s enigmatic slugger as a symbol of their frustrations, and frankly there was still an element of the team’s fan base that could be described as nothing less than racist in that late-60’s civil rights era.

Some of the fans in the left field bleachers at old Connie Mack Stadium took to throwing pennies, even batteries, at him. He began to wear a batting helmet in the field, a practice that would follow him throughout the rest of his career.

In 1969, Allen was off to a hot start, but then in June of that season he was suspended by new manager Bob Skinner for showing up late to a game. For Allen, it was the straw that broke the camel’s back. During his down time, he had purchased horses for his growing stable on a farm in Bucks County. Happy to get away from the abusive fans and what he felt was some unfair treatment by the team, Allen told the Phillies that he wouldn’t return from suspension.

Fearful of losing a prized asset in the prime of his career at the peak of his trade value without compensation, GM Bob Carpenter talked Allen into returning with a promise that he would be traded at the end of the season. Allen returned, and while the team was pitiful, he finished out another strong individual season.

The trade came on October 7th, 1969 as the Phillies sent Allen, Cookie Rojas, and Jerry Johnson to the Saint Louis Cardinals in exchange for outfielders Curt Flood and Byron Browne, catcher Tim McCarver, and pitcher Joe Hoerner. But as with seemingly everything involving Allen at the time, even his trade would not come without major controversy.

These were the days before free agency, when baseball’s “reserve clause” was still in effect, basically binding players to a team unless they were traded. Flood wanted no parts of going to a losing situation in Philly, and balked at reporting. In the end, he would not only refuse the trade, he would take on all of baseball in fighting for the elimination of that reserve clause.

Though Flood’s fight would ultimately prove of major historical importance for all Major League Baseball players, it didn’t help the Phillies at all. The young outfielder was considered a key piece in the deal from their perspective. Saint Louis would ultimately send along Willie Montanez as compensation to complete the deal.

His stay in Saint Louis would prove short, just one season, but it was a highly productive season. Allen returned to his place among the game’s top stars. He was voted the starter at 1st base for the NL in the All-Star Game, his 4th All-Star appearance. He hit 34 homers and drove in 101 runs. And still, again there was controversy.

A series of late-season injuries, including a torn hamstring, ended his season early while the Cards were still in contention. It would prove to be a fatal blow for the team. But also, Allen chose to recover at his home near Philadelphia, rather than back in Saint Louis where the team could monitor him, a decision with which Cardinal management was not happy.

Almost immediately after the season concluded, the Cards dealt him away to the Los Angeles Dodgers for 2nd baseman Ted Sizemore and catcher Bob Stinson. The deal appeared to be a steal for LA, and Allen did indeed produce for the Dodgers, but it was again only a one year performance. In that one season out west, Allen hit .295, slugged 23 homers, knocked in 90 runs, and nearly led the Dodgers to an NL West crown.

Still, he was gone in the off-season, this time to the Chicago White Sox in a deal in which the Dodgers in return received a talented southpaw pitcher by the name of Tommy John. It would be Allen’s first time in the American League, and it would prove to be a perfect fit for player and franchise.

The AL West seemed up for grabs behind the Oakland A’s, who had become the team to beat in the division after winning the 1971 World Series. To challenge them in ’72, the Sox believed that Allen’s power was just what they needed. They were right, as Chicago battled Oakland all year, leading the race as late as late-August.

Though Oakland would eventually inch slowly away to an eventual 5 1/2 game division victory, the 2nd place 87-win season was a big step in the right direction for the Sox. The step forward was indeed led by Dick Allen. He was named the American League Most Valuable Player after hitting .308 and leading the AL in on-base percentage (.420), Walks (99), Homeruns (37) and RBI (113) in what was the first of 3 consecutive AL All-Star seasons.

The success would not repeat in 1973 due to injury. In late-June, Allen was in the midst of another big campaign when he broke his leg in a 1st base collision. At the time of the injury he was hitting .310 with 16 homers and 41 rbi, and he was voted to another All-Star Game appearance. He would only return for parts of 3 more games that year. The Sox, tied for first at the end of June, faded to a 5th place finish.

The 1974 season saw Allen return healthy, but also saw yet another controversy develop. Future Hall of Famer Ron Santo arrived from the cross-town Cubs. A Chicago baseball icon, Santo was basically playing out the final season of his career. A clubhouse power struggle ensued between the two, and by the end of the year, Allen confided that he was retiring. He left the team in mid-September and would not return.

Realizing that he was discontented, the Sox sought to get a return for their powerful 1st baseman while they could still get some value. He had shown that he still had that power with a 32 homer season in a 1974 during which he also hit .301 on the year. In December of ’74 they dealt him to the Atlanta Braves, but Allen remained retired and never played in Atlanta.

Meanwhile, back in his old Philly stomping grounds, the Fightin’ Phils were indeed beginning to fight their way back up the standings once again. Allen was courted by a number of current Phillies including Mike Schmidt, as well as old-timers such as Richie Ashburn and his former teammate Robin Roberts. They convinced him that things had changed in Philly, both on and off the field, and Allen relented to a return.

The Braves traded Allen’s rights to the Phils, and on May 14th, 1975, Dick Allen returned to the Philadelphia Phillies lineup for the first time in a half dozen years. He played 7 innings at 1st base that night at Veteran’s Stadium, going 1-3 with a single as the Phils shutout the Cincinnati Reds 4-0 behind a Steve Carlton complete game.

In that 1975 season, Allen helped the Phillies young sluggers Schmidt and Greg Luzinski in their development while providing a veteran slugging presence behind them in the batting order. He only hit a dozen homers, but drove in 62 runs in just 488 plate appearances.

The 1976 season opened with a ton of excitement around the team. They were expected to challenge the Pirates for the NL East crown, the All-Star Game would be held in Philly that year, and the nation would be celebrating it’s Bicentennial, with many of the important festivities centered in the city.

1976 would not play out as a healthy year for Allen. Two separate injuries at the end of April and the end of July cost him a month each time. Still, despite just 298 plate appearances, basically half a season, he managed to bomb 15 homers and drive in 49 runs. And the team did indeed finally win the NL East, setting a franchise record with 101 wins and pulling away in September to a 9-game victory in the division.

The 1976 playoffs would be the only postseason appearance of Allen’s career. The Phillies were matched up with the defending World Series champions, ‘The Big Red Machine’ era Cincinnati Reds. It would prove to be a quick knockout for the champs, as the Reds swept the Phils with 6-3, 6-2, and 7-6 wins. Allen went 2-9 with a run scored. It was mostly uneventful for the veteran slugger, except for his Game 2 error that led to the ultimate winning run.

That off-season, for the first time in his career, Dick Allen was a free agent. Unfortunately for him, it would not result in the kinds of big paydays that future free agents would enjoy. He was now 35-years old, clearly at the end of his career. Allen signed with the Oakland Athletics during Spring Training of 1977, but despite getting regular playing time through June, Allen was not happy.

Following a June 19th doubleheader in Chicago against the White Sox team for whom he had enjoyed success just a few years earlier, Allen retired. In his final at-bat, as a pinch-hitter in the top of the 7th inning, Allen struck out. In what was a more complete story to the goodbye, he had started the opener for the A’s at 1st base and gone 2-4.

Dick Allen retired having played in parts of 15 seasons. Just 11 of those were full seasons due to either youth, age, or injury. He had blasted 351 homeruns, drove in 1,119 runs and had a career .292 average. He had been the 1964 NL Rookie of the Year, and the 1972 AL Most Valuable Player, as well as a 7-time All-Star.

Allen’s retirement years were difficult. He went through a divorce that included a major financial settlement against him, and then suffered further with a destructive fire at his home which also destroyed his horse stables. Having said he would never be a coach in the game, he would indeed return as a hitting instructor with both organizations for which he had his most career success, the White Sox and Phillies.

In retirement there have been few players whose Hall of Fame credentials have been more vigorously debated. Many of his detractors point to two main negatives: that he was a “clubhouse lawyer” type who sowed discord behind closed doors and caused friction that hurt his teams. Also, that he simply didn’t produce over a long enough period of time.

However, almost every major player and coach who was a part of Allen’s career has stepped forward to refute the claims of his negativity in the clubhouse, including two of the game’s greatest managers, Chuck Tanner and Gene Mauch. Among players, no less than the greatest 3rd baseman and greatest Phillie in history, Mike Schmidt, has called Allen a mentor.

A reasonable evaluation of the dominance of the numbers produced by Dick Allen, largely during that decade of the 1960’s that is universally regarded as having been historically dominated by pitching, is absolutely worthy of his enshrinement in the Baseball Hall of Fame.

If there is any justice in this great game, in a little more than a week Dick Allen will get a phone call that is long overdue. That call will be one letting him know that he has been elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame, and that in the summer of 2015, he will finally get his long-deserved day in the Cooperstown sun

Phillies Prez Montgomery Steps Down

Montgomery is a native and lifelong Philly guy
The Philadelphia Phillies organization announced on Thursday afternoon that club president David Montgomery, serving in that post since 1997, is stepping down temporarily due to medical reasons. The 68-year old who also serves as the Phillies CEO is a part-owner and general partner, and recently underwent surgery in relation to cancer of the jaw.
It was further announced that Baseball Hall of Famer and former club GM Pat Gillick will serve in Montgomery’s post during his recuperation period. It is hoped that Montgomery will be able to return actively to the team presidency once he is fully recovered.
Last night, Montgomery was one of the first in line to congratulate the local Taney Dragons, the team that won the hearts of Philadelphians with their advancement to the 2014 Little League World Series earlier this month. CSN’s Phillies “insider” Jim Salisbury on Twitter (@jsalisburycsn): “Dave Montgomery was the first guy in line to congratulate the Taney kids last night. The guy is all-Philly first team and a warrior.
Montgomery grew up in Philly, attending numerous games at Connie Mack Stadium during the 1950′s and 60′s. He graduated from Penn Charter high school and then from the University of Pennsylvania. He continued with his Penn education at the Wharton Business School, graduating in 1970, the Phils final season at Connie Mack.
In 1971, Montgomery was hired as a member of the Phillies sales department with some intervention from organizational legend Robin Roberts. He spent some time as the scoreboard operator at Veteran’s Stadium, and then quickly rose through the organization, becoming the head of sales and marketing, and by the end of the 70′s had become the head of the business department.
In 1981, Montgomery became part of the team put together by Bill Giles to purchase the Phillies from Ruly Carpenter. With Giles as the principle owner, Montgomery became the executive vice-president. He would serve in this post, helping run the team and make numerous important decisions, for the next 16 seasons.
In 1997, Montgomery ascended to the club presidency when Giles took on the position of Chairman and began the fight for a new ballpark. This made Montgomery the first Philadelphian to head the organization in six decades. He has been active in numerous Philadelphia civic ventures, for his University of Pennsylvania alma mater, and has served Major League Baseball in a number of roles.

The Whiz Kids

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Dick Sisler is mobbed by his Whiz Kids teammates after the 10th inning home run that won the 1950 NL pennant

 

The team that we now lovingly know as the Philadelphia Phillies was born way back in 1883 as the Philadelphia Quakers. During that first season they also became referred to as the ‘Philadelphians’, which was frequently shortened to ‘Phillies‘, and so the club thus has the distinction of being the oldest, continuous, one nickname, one city franchise in all of pro sports.

In 1887 they began to play regularly at ‘The Philadelphia Baseball Grounds’, which became ‘National League Park’ in 1895, and finally became known as the ‘Baker Bowl’ in 1914. After playing there for over a half century, the Phillies moved to ‘Shibe Park’ in 1937, which they shared with it’s original tenants, the American League’s Philadelphia Athletics. (The ballpark was renamed ‘Connie Mack Stadium’ in 1953 after the legendary A’s owner/manager.)

With the notable exception of the 1915 World Series season, the Phillies were mostly losers on the field during that first half-century. But new ownership during the 1940’s began to put increased emphasis on the farm system, developing strong players who finally jelled in the 1950 season.

Two of those players went on to become long-term Phillies legends and Baseball Hall of Famers. Center fielder Richie Ashburn was a Kansas farm boy who could run like the wind. One of the great Negro Leaguers of the time famously called Ashburn ‘the fastest white man in the game.’

Robin Roberts was a bulldog of a starting pitcher who by the end of the century was recognized as one of the top 75 greatest players in the history of the game by The Sporting News.

Together, Ashburn and Roberts helped fuel a young, exciting Phillies team that gradually rose into contention, and which because of their youth were handed the nickname of ‘The Whiz Kids’.

By the final week of the season the young Phillies were battling the far more veteran Brooklyn Dodgers for the National League pennant. Roberts started three times for the Phillies that week, including the season finale showdown on the final day at Ebbetts Field in Brooklyn.

The two clubs battled into the bottom of the 9th inning, where a base hit saw Cal Abrams head for home as the Dodgers potential winning run before a perfect throw from center field by Ashburn nailed him to preserve the tie and send the game to extra innings.

In the top of the 10th with two men on Dick Sisler stepped up to the plate. The son of Baseball Hall of Famer George Sisler delivered the biggest hit in Phillies history to that point, driving a three-run opposite-field home run to put the Phillies out in front.

Roberts set the Dodgers down in the order in the bottom of that 10th inning, and the Philadelphia Phillies had won their first NL pennant in 35 years.

In the World Series the club that everyone was by now calling ‘The Whiz Kids’ would take on the powerful New York Yankees.

For Game 1 at Shibe Park, manager Eddie Sawyer was unable to call on his ace Roberts because of that pennant-stretch work load. So, Sawyer tapped reliever Jim Konstanty, who would be named the Most Valuable Player in the National League that season, for the assignment. Many felt that the game was a mismatch in favor of Yankees 21-game winner Vic Raschi.

Konstanty, normally a relief pitcher, surprised most everyone by nearly matching Raschi pitch-for-pitch. But the Yankees scored a 4th inning run that held up for a 1-0 victory in the opener.

For Game 2 in North Philly, Roberts was back on the hill facing Yankees ace Allie Reynolds, and it resulted in yet another pitcher’s duel. New York again took the lead with a 2nd inning run, but Ashburn’s RBI tied it up in the bottom of the 5th, and the two teams battled into extra innings.

In the top of the 10th, future Hall of Fame legend Joe DiMaggio stepped to the plate and blasted a solo home run to left field. It would stand up as the winning run in a 2-1 Yankees victory.

Down 2-0 after a pair of dispiriting one-run losses on their home turf, the Phils moved on to Yankee Stadium where a third consecutive pitchers duel took place.

Phillies left-hander Ken Heintzelman carried a 2-1 lead into the bottom of the 8th inning, but he finally tired, got wild, and loaded the bases. Konstanty relieved to try and preserve the lead. Unfortunately, the usually sure-handed Granny Hamner bobbled a ground ball that allowed the tying run to score.

That tie moved into the bottom of the 9th where Russ Meyer came on to pitch for the Phillies and retired the first two batters, and the Series appeared headed for its second straight extra inning tilt. But Meyer then allowed three consecutive singles, the final one to Joe Coleman knocking in the game-winning run.

That 3-2 victory had the Yanks up by three games to none, all three victories in tense affairs taken by just a single run each. Now they looked to clinch their franchise’ 13th World Series title in front of the home fans in Game 5.

Yogi Berra‘s 1st inning homer and a 3-run 5th inning rally put the Yanks up 5-0, and they coasted into the 9th inning with that same big lead. After recording the first two outs, the home team was apparently ready to end it easily.

The Phillies decided to put up one last fight, however. They put two men on base and then, with two outs, Andy Seminick hit an easy fly ball for what looked like it would be the final out. Yankees left fielder Gene Woodling settled under it, the ball came down into his glove…and popped out, falling to the ground as two runs scored.

Suddenly the Phillies were down 5-2, and when the next batter got a hit they were improbably, perhaps miraculously bringing the tying run to the plate.

Alas, there would be no miracle. Reynolds came on in relief and struck out pinch-hitter Stan Lopata. The Yankees celebrated their title as the home crowd went wild. The Phillies walked off the field having fought a great dynasty to a near draw, yet still having been swept.

The Phillies were young and talented, and it seemed as if they had a bright future together as contenders. Even that was not to be as the team slowly faded back into mediocrity over the next few years.

But for one glorious summer in Philadelphia, a young, talented, lovable group of ballplayers excited the town and battled the dynastic Yankees in the World Series.

It would be years before many of those ‘Whiz Kids’ would ever again have to pick up a dinner check in the the city of Philadelphia, and they are still remembered fondly more than a half-century later.