David Montgomery was among those in attendance at the news conference Thursday when incoming Phillies president Andy MacPhail and part-owner John Middleton addressed the dismissal of general manager Ruben Amaro Jr.
For the Phillies' former longtime president and current chairman, the news came attached with "all of the emotions you can imagine." Montgomery, 69, has known Amaro since the former player was a teenager and worked closely with him for 17 years, the first 10 when Amaro was an assistant GM and the last seven after Montgomery appointed him GM.
"On a personal note, I want to see him do well. I think he will do well. . . . One of the reasons Pat [Gillick] stepped aside [after the 2008 season] was to give Ruben the opportunity because he believed so much in his ability," Montgomery said Tuesday, speaking before the Moyer Foundation's third annual Champions for Children Luncheon, where he was honored with two community service awards.
"It ran its course. In order to give Andy the opportunity that we're talking about, he needed a fresh canvas to work with and that sadly [didn't include] Ruben. But that doesn't mean we shouldn't, in my mind, be very respectful and appreciative of the work Ruben did because it was what we were trying to do."
The edict the Phillies operated under until last fall, when Gillick began charting the course for the organization's rebuilding project, was to continue to try to win by augmenting their aging core. It backfired when the Phillies failed to win another World Series after 2008, and the team, now with baseball's worst record, is closing in on its fourth consecutive non-winning season.
"We pushed it hard. We were all involved in it, and I've said that many times, as far as trying to get one more after we got '08," Montgomery said. "We were all in. We knew the risk. We knew the risk that when you trade your near-ready minor leaguers, there's going to be a dip."
Looking forward, Montgomery, who moved from president to chairman in January, said MacPhail, 62, is the "ideal person" to lead the Phillies' rebuilding process. The two longtime baseball executives have known each other since the 1980s, when MacPhail was the GM of the Minnesota Twins.
"He's a planner," Montgomery said. "He's very thoughtful, and I think he will do an excellent job for us."
The Moyer Foundation, founded in 2000 by former Phillies pitcher Jamie Moyer and his wife, Karen, helps children affected by loss and family addiction. It created and funds Camp Erin, the country's largest network of free bereavement camps for grieving children, and Camp Mariposa, a free program for children impacted by a family member's addiction.
Montgomery was presented with the foundation's Jamie Moyer Legends Award and its Community All-Star Award. Moyer, 52, called Montgomery a "huge positive role model, not only in the Phillies organization but in the community."