The Phillies have issued a statement refuting a FOX 29 report from last night which claimed president and CEO David Montgomery was forced out of his position in order for partial owner John Middleton to become the team’s majority owner. Via CSNPhilly.com’s Jim Salisbury (Twitter link), here is the Phillies’ statement:
“Contrary to the FOX 29 report last night, David Montgomery’s leave of absence from the Phillies is entirely due to his medical condition, as previously announced. There is absolutely no other reason for his leave from active involvement in the Phillies management. Over the life of the Phillies partnership no one entity or family has owned a majority of the partnership, and we do not foresee this changing in the future.”
Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer also spoke to multiple unnamed sources that “strongly” refuted the notion that Montgomery was forced out (Twitter link). But, in a full article, Gelb writes that not all of what FOX 29’s Howard Eskin reported can be refuted. While the notion that Montgomery was forced out appears decidedly incorrect, Gelb confirmed with two sources that Eskin was correct in reporting that Middleton now has a 48 percent share of the team. It’s not clear how long he’s held such a large share, according to Gelb, but it does appear to be unusual for a Phillies minority owner to have such a large stake in the team.
According to Gelb, Middleton is not expected to make a push for majority ownership, even if he is technically positioned to do so. Additionally, Gelb spoke with multiple sources who said that were it not for Montgomery’s battle with cancer, he would still be assuming his duties as team president. He adds that the Phillies are expecting Montgomery to make a full recovery and return to his post, though a timetable is unclear.
Should the Phillies make a move for a permanent replacement for Montgomery, Gelb continues, senior vice president of marketing and advertising sales Dave Buck is viewed as one of the top internal candidates. Middleton himself told someone with whom Gelb spoke that Montgomery’s situation would not be evaluated until at least January. For the time being, interim president Pat Gillick has “unilateral control of the franchise,” and has deferred day-to-day business matters to senior VP of administration and operations Mike Stiles.