David Montgomery, the Phillies’ president and CEO, is taking a medical leave of absence from the organization, the team announced Thursday afternoon.
Montgomery, who is undergoing treatment for cancer of the jaw, will be replaced on an interim basis by Pat Gillick.
In a statement, the team said it looked forward to Montgomery returning to lead the organization “when he is fully recovered.”
Montgomery, 68, joined the Phillies ticket sales office in 1971 and worked his way up through the sales and marketing departments. He became chief operating officer in 1992 and was named co-general partner and acquired a stake in the team in 1994. In June 1997, he succeeded Bill Giles as general partner, president and chief executive officer.
Montgomery had surgery on May 19 to remove cancer from his jawbone. He took little time away from the job after the surgery and remained a fixture around Citizens Bank Park. He was with the club in Washington last month and on the field for celebrations honoring Charlie Manuel and the Taney Dragons Little League team this month. In fact, Montgomery, clad in a gray Taney Baseball T-Shirt, was the first person to greet the honored Little Leaguers as they made their way to the field for Wednesday’s night celebration.
The Taney celebration was the embodiment of Montgomery’s ideals as it brought together several of his loves -- the Phillies, baseball and the Philadelphia community.
Gillick, 77, is a legendary baseball executive who has been the general manager for four major league teams. He made his name building the expansion Toronto Blue Jays into a two-time World Series winner.
In the fall of 2005, Gillick was recruited by Montgomery to become the Phillies’ GM. The Phils won the World Series in 2008, Gillick’s final season as GM.
Gillick handed the GM reins to Ruben Amaro Jr. after the 2008 season, but stayed with the organization as a senior adviser to the club president and GM.
Gillick was not available to reporters on Thursday.
“I have the highest regard for David Montgomery, as does everyone in our industry," Gillick said in a statement issued by the team. "I am glad to be of assistance to the Phillies.”
During his time as club president, Montgomery oversaw every facet of the construction of Citizens Bank Park, from financing to design to the actual building of the ballpark. On the baseball side, the Phillies went from the bottom of the National League to five straight National League East titles, two NL pennants and a World Series championship.
The Phillies have missed the playoffs the last two seasons and slipped back to the basement of the NL East this season. Amaro, hired by Montgomery to succeed Gillick after the 2008 season, has come under fire as the team has slipped in the standings. In his last public comments before taking his leave of absence, Montgomery told a group of fans at a ballpark event that Amaro’s job was safe.
Amaro was an assistant under Gillick. Thursday’s news means Amaro works for Gillick again until Montgomery returns.