11/21/2013 10:17 A.M. ET
The Carpenters brought stability to Phils' franchise
By Larry Shenk / MLB.com
For the first 60 years of the franchise, 10 different ownership groups owned the Phillies. The revolving door finally ended after the 1943 season.
Gerry Nugent, who became the owner in 1932, was so financially unstable that the National League intervened, forcing Nugent to sell the team to William Cox, a successful New York lumber company businessman who headed a 30-man syndicate. He took control of the team when Spring Training started in March 1943. Late that season, word got out that Cox had bet on Phils games. Following a lengthy investigation by Major League Baseball, Cox was banned from baseball.
Seventy years ago on Nov. 23, R. R. M. Carpenter Sr., a vice president of the du Pont Company in Wilmington, Del., purchased the team and named his son, R. R. M. (Bob) Carpenter Jr. president. At 28 years of age, Bob Carpenter was the youngest president of an NL team.
Facing military duty, Bob Carpenter announced, "We will hire someone to run the club. He'll be in full charge of the baseball affairs."
Taking over a roster that finished 64-90 and 41 games out of first place, an organization with one scout and a Minor League system with a working agreement with one team, Carpenter proclaimed, "The first thing is building a farm system. We're not going to beat anybody's brains out by trying to get a good club right off the bat. But we are going to start working on one systematically. It may take five years to produce results."
Eight days into his new role, Carpenter hired a general manager, a friend from Kennett Square and a former great pitcher of 22 years in the Majors, Herb Pennock.
"He's the boss, the chief cook, bottle washer and everything else," said Carpenter.
Pennock had been head of the Boston Red Sox's farm system at the time Carpenter hired him. In March 1944, Carpenter was drafted into the Army. He served until 1946, leaving Pennock to carry out the plan alone.
Within four years, the Phillies had dolled out bonuses amounting to $1,250,000. The scouting staff numbered nine, and the Minor League system consisted of working agreements with 11 teams, "The Phillies Encyclopedia" reported.
Pennock died suddenly on Jan. 30, 1948, at age 53, leaving Carpenter completely in charge. Carpenter was named the Major League Executive of The Year by The Sporting News in 1949 after a third-place finish, the first winning season for the Phils since 1932.
On the last day of the 1950 season, the master plan produced an NL pennant winner. A bunch of young homegrown players, nicknamed the Whiz Kids, brought an NL pennant to Philadelphia for the first time since 1915. Despite a young core that included future Hall of Famers in center fielder Richie Ashburn and right-handed pitcher Robin Roberts, the Whiz Kids never won another pennant.
Following the organization's first World Series championship in 1980, the Carpenter family, with R. R. M. (Ruly) Carpenter III as president, made a difficult decision. As Spring Training in 1981 was about to begin in Clearwater, Fla., Ruly Carpenter called for a meeting with the players and front-office executives in the Carpenter Field clubhouse. To the surprise of everyone, he announced the team was going to be sold. That fall, a group headed by Phillies executive vice president Bill Giles purchased the ballclub. So in the last 70 years of the franchise that has been around for 130 seasons, there have been only two different ownership groups, a far cry from the instability of the early years.
Larry Shenk is the vice president of alumni relations for the Phillies. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.