Philadelphia Phillies chairman David Montgomery died on Wednesday morning following a five-year battle with cancer, the team announced.
He was 72 years old.
“Today’s a really hard day,” Phillies managing partner John Middleton said through tears (h/t NBC Sports). “A painfully sad day beginning with Phillies family, but extending to Philadelphia… This is a man who lived a great life, he’s an example to all of us and we should all be grateful that he was in our lives and for all the lives he touched… He was loved by everyone.”
“We lost a piece of our soul.”
Montgomery has been an employee of the Phillies for the last 48 years, beginning in their ticket office in 1971. Within 10 years, he was named the executive vice president and was the organization’s chief operating officer by 1992.
In 1997, he was named president and general partner.
Born and raised in Philadelphia, where he frequented Connie Mack Stadium as a child while idolizing Richie Ashburn, Montgomery became the city’s first native son to run the Phillies in over 60 years.
He played an integral role in developing the Phillies into a National League powerhouse during the 2000s as the organization moved into its current home at Citizen’s Bank Park in 2004. He was the man responsible for overseeing the construction of the park.
Helping assemble a core of Jimmy Rollins, Ryan Howard, Cole Hamels, and Chase Utley, the Phillies won their second-ever World Series title in 2008 and their first since 1980.
Away from the Phillies, Montgomery was a trustee of the University of Pennsylvania and served on Major League Baseball’s Labor Policy and Strategic Planning Committees, the board of MLB Enterprises, and on the Scheduling Committee.
Montgomery was diagnosed with jaw-bone cancer in 2014, forcing him to take a one-year leave of absence.
“I join all Philadelphians in mourning the loss of Dave Montgomery, who helped build the Phillies into one of the preeminent sports franchises in the nation,” Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney said. “Dave was a true local success story.”