Who Are the Phillies Owners?

One of the best kept secrets in Philadelphia is the phantom group of people we loosely call the Phillies owners. The Phillies’ ownership group has remained more of a mystery in this town than Bigfoot or the Bermuda Triangle.

While winning the World Series in 2008 took a ton of heat off the Phillies owners, fans renewed their hatred for the faceless, nameless individuals who we never see or hear when the club dealt Cliff Lee for the likely reason of saving $9 million bucks. It is time now that we investigate these Phillies ghosts, who are quite skilled at remaining invisible. David Montgomery is here to speak for the owners that allowed so many years of horrid baseball before getting lucky in 2008, and to make sure that fans never, ever learn who they really are. 

David Montgomery said recently that the Phillies owners are in the red and have been since they took over the team. HA! I guess we should all bow down and thank these wonderful people for selflessly throwing away their hard-earned money for our enjoyment. Right. Montgomery was not lying, http://www.ropaindustrial.net/ https://ideashackers.com/ but he was surely bending the truth as well as any politician out there. I bet they have been losing money… in their operating costs. But the team value is an entirely different story. Let’s put it this way: The original group bought the team in 1981 for $30 million. The 2008 Phillies were reportedly worth $481 million (and that’s before winning the World Series). That’s over a 1,600 percent increase in the value of the team…1,600 percent! Trust me, they are NOT LOSING MONEY.

Before revealing these Phillies Phantoms, let’s discuss how exactly they came to be the owners. In 1981 when Ruly Carpenter announced he was selling the team, Bill Giles assembled a group of investors to buy the Phillies. With only $50,000 of his own to spend, he needed a little help. He took a 10 percent share of the team, oversaw the day-to-day operations, and became the spokesperson of the group, allowing the others to hide in the shadows.

The Buck brothers invested $5 million. Widener family heir Fitz Dixon and horse-racing mogul Bob Levy combined for $3.5 million. John D. Betz from Betz Laboratories pledged $5 million. Taft Broadcasting took care of the rest, throwing in $15 million.

In 1986, Taft Broadcasting sold its 47 percent share to Bill Giles and crew for $24.1 million. Bob Levy and Fitz Dixon have also since cashed out. Bill Giles handed over his general partner position to David Montgomery in 1997, who also took a sliver of the company. 

That leaves Claire Betz, the Buck Brothers, and John Middleton as the unnamed sources remaining. Let’s see what we can dig up, shall we? Let’s meet the cast:

Claire S. Betz
Claire S. Betz is approaching the age of 90 and shares time between her homes in Gwynedd, PA and Key Largo, Florida. Claire’s husband, John Drew Betz, bought his share of the Phillies in 1981 and she took over ownership amidst a nice little soap opera. See, her son, Peter Betz, was murdered by her 16-year-old grandson, Justin Betz, in 1988. Justin pleaded guilty to third-degree murder and John died of cancer at the age of 72 during the trial. That’s when she took over his share. The Inquirer’s Bill Conlin valued her stake at 33 percent of the team in a November 2007 article.

The Betz’ made their fortune through a family-owned water-purifying company called Betz Laboratories of which John Betz was the chairman. Betz Laboratories was later sold to General Electric. She and David Montgomery are also on the board of the Schuylkill Center, a local conservation group. When Claire passes away, the other partners will likely buy her shares.

The Buck Brothers
The Buck brothers: Alexander K. Buck, J. Mahlon Buck, Jr., and William C. Buck. Officially known as Tri-Play Associates, the three brothers are involved with T.D.H. Capital Corp., a venture capital firm based in Radnor, PA. The firm was started in 1977 and primarily invests in small businesses. 

They also have been heavily involved in local charity, including gifts to the zoo, orchestra, and education. “The Bucks are very principled. Very, very gentlemanly. Very, very private,” says J.B. Doherty, general partner of TDH Capital.

John Middleton
John S. Middleton is in his mid-fifties and splits his time between Bryn Mawr and Stone Harbor. He is a 1977 graduate of Amherst College, and according to them, “Middleton heads his family’s business, which includes McIntosh Inns, Bradford Holdings, and Double Play, Inc.” He inherited his portion of the ownership from his father, Herbert H. Middleton. He is also on the Board of Trustees of Penn Medicine. 

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