Nothing about the Phillies' ownership operation is expected to change with the death Sunday of Alexander "Whip" Buck, one of the three brothers who formed the Tri-Play Associates portion of the team's limited partners.

"Nobody here has really talked about it, but I don't think it will change in any way," Phillies president David Montgomery said.

Buck's older brothers - J. Mahlon Jr. and William - will continue as limited partners under the Tri-Play Associates name. The Buck brothers became part of the Phillies' ownership group in 1981 when current chairman Bill Giles put together a group that purchased the team from Ruly Carpenter for slightly more than $30 million.

Alexander, the youngest of the three Buck brothers, was 51 at the time the team was purchased.

The other initial owners of the team were Taft Broadcasting Co., which owned Channel 29 and other media outlets at the time; J.D.B. Associates; Fitz Eugene Dixon, who once owned the 76ers; and Rochelle Levy, the wife of Bob Levy, who owned Atlantic City Race Course.

Only the Buck brothers and Claire Betz, whose husband, John, was part of J.D.B. Associates, remain from the original ownership group. According to reports at the time, the Buck brothers invested $5 million in the team, which Forbes magazine now values at $537 million.

Another limited partner is John Middleton, whose father, Herbert, purchased a share of the team from the Levy family in late 1994. John Middleton, 55, sold the family's locally run cigar business - John Middleton Inc. - for $2.9 billion in 2007.

Middleton is by far the most visible of the limited partners, making appearances in the clubhouse this season during the team's champagne celebrations when the Phillies clinched their fourth straight National League East title last month in Washington and swept their three-game division series with Cincinnati earlier this month.

As the team's general partner, Montgomery is the Phillies' chief decision maker, a role he inherited from Giles in the middle of the 1997 season. Giles now serves as the team chairman, but Montgomery is clearly the most powerful voice in the front office.

Contact staff writer Bob Brookover at 215-854-2577 or