ST. LOUIS -- Rhys Hoskins didn’t know David Montgomery well. They met in 2014, then again in 2017, and had a few scattered conversations over the last few years. But the young Phillies slugger could plainly see Montgomery’s imprint on the franchise.
“He was probably the heartbeat of this organization,” Hoskins said.
Indeed, if the Phillies lost their voice, as Montgomery so eloquently put it, when Hall of Fame broadcaster Harry Kalas died in 2009, they lost their heart on Wednesday. Montgomery, the team’s chairman and former longtime president, passed away at age 72 after a five-year fight with jawbone cancer.
And while tributes poured in from across baseball, particularly many long-standing members of the Phillies organization, and the Cardinals observed a moment of silence before their matinee game against the Phillies, Montgomery’s impact wasn’t lost on players and staff, most of whom knew him only barely or not at all since he stepped aside as team president in 2015.
Gabe Kapler recalled sharing a meal with Montgomery after being hired to manage the Phillies. Like many other people at that time, Montgomery offered Kapler advice for how to succeed in Philadelphia, particularly setting realistic expectations for the team. But the meeting went beyond professional courtesy.
“He was so reasoned and so wise and so caring,” Kapler said. “He definitely set that meal up not just to give me specific advice, but to show me that he cared about me and cared about us as a group. He did this for every employee he came into contact with, and that’s why this organization feels like we lost a family member.”
Montgomery started working for his hometown team in the ticket office in 1971. His 18-year run as team president included the free-agent signing of Jim Thome, the construction and opening of Citizens Bank Park, five consecutive division titles from 2007 through 2011, and the 2008 World Series championship.
When MLB commissioner Rob Manfred was in town last month to award the 2026 All-Star Game to Philadelphia at a news conference outside Independence Hall, he cited Montgomery as the driving force behind the event. He also described Montgomery as a “mentor” early in his career as a league executive, a sentiment that he reiterated in a statement on Wednesday.
“David’s approach to running the franchise and serving its fans was to treat everyone like family,” Manfred said. “He set an outstanding example in Philadelphia and throughout our game. David was one of my mentors in baseball and was universally regarded as an industry expert and leader. In recent years, I marveled at his courage as he battled cancer, and, through it all, his amazing ability to think of others. I will remember David Montgomery as a gentleman and a man of great integrity.”
The sense of family that Montgomery fostered within the organization has endured even as other Phillies philosophies evolved over the last few years under the new front-office regime led by team president Andy MacPhail and general manager Matt Klentak. Hoskins can still feel it. The culture set by Montgomery is ingrained.