Dave Montgomery, president and CEO of the Phillies, recently addressed a luncheon of the Greater Northeast Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce.
The event took place at the Cottage Green. Since then, Montgomery has had successful surgery to remove cancer from his right jaw bone.
Montgomery joined the Phillies’ sales department in 1971. Ten years later, he was named head of the business department. Soon after, he joined a group of business people to buy the franchise for $30 million, and was named executive vice president.
In 1997, when Bill Giles became chairman, Montgomery was named team president.
“I’ve had a wonderful experience 44 years working at the same place,” he said.
Montgomery, who turns 68 on June 26, listed Willie Mays and Roberto Clemente as his favorite players growing up.
Later, he became good friends with Phillies stars Larry Bowa, Bob Boone and Greg Luzinski.
Montgomery recalled that Veterans Stadium was a “jewel” when it opened in 1971, adding that the introduction of the Phillie Phanatic in 1978 was “one of our best decisions ever.”
In a question-and-answer session, Montgomery said the new rule allowing teams to challenge calls has resulted in fewer confrontations between managers and umpires.
“I don’t think you’ll see Earl Weaver throwing bases,” he said of the fiery former manager of the Baltimore Orioles.
Montgomery was also asked about the decision to remove Chris Wheeler from the television broadcast booth.
“That was very difficult,” he acknowledged.
Montgomery explained that Comcast SportsNet indicated a desire to have younger analysts, which led to the hiring of recently retired former Phillies Matt Stairs and Jamie Moyer.
Late in the 2013 season, Montgomery gave Wheeler a “heads up” that a change would be made. He described Wheeler, who did not play professional baseball, as someone who learned the game from close friends Bowa and another former Phillie, John Vukovich.
“We owe him a debt of thanks,” he said.
Montgomery was asked if the Phillies should have a “Chris Wheeler Day” at Citizens Bank Park.
“The answer is yes. His answer is no,” he said. ••