Former Phillies owner, UD football supporter Carpenter dies at 81

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MONTCHANIN — Ruly Carpenter, the lifelong Delawarean who was the owner of the Phillies when they won their first World Series in 1980, died unexpectedly on Monday.

He was 81 when he passed away at his Montchanin home.

A Tower Hill grad, Carpenter was also an avid University of Delaware football follower. He regularly attended Blue Hen practices and was at Delaware’s win over St. Francis in Newark on Saturday evening.

Carpenter also famously sold the Phillies the year after they won the World Series because he thought major league players’ salaries were getting too high. He was the team president from 1972 to 1981.

When he took over the team from his father, Bob, at the age of 32, Carpenter was the youngest club president in the league.

In ‘81, he sold the Phillies for $32.5 million to a group of investors led by Bill Giles.

“I just don’t think you can continue to operate this business paying players this kind of money,” Carpenter was quoted by the Philadelphia Inquirer in 1981. “I can’t fault players and their agents for asking, but I can fault my peers for giving it, including myself.”

Known for advocating a strong farm system for the Phillies, Carpenter once came to a Milford High baseball game in later years to see a highly recruited player.

Two of UD’s main sports buildings, the Carpenter Center and the Carpenter Sports Building on campus, are named after Carpenter’s father and grandfather.

With Carpenter’s father, one the people who founded the Blue-Gold All-Star Football Game, Ruly played in the first contest in 1956. The organization just held its 65th annual Blue-Gold game this summer.

Carpenter, who played both football and baseball at Yale, attended the Phillies’ Alumni Weekend this summer and reportedly kept in regular contact with former players.

Despite his family’s wealth and his status, Carpenter was widely known as just a regular guy by most of the people who met him.

“He had a heart as big as gold,” former Phillies shortstop Larry Bowa was quoted by the Inquirer. “He was just a great guy.

“I had to sit down when I heard the news. I was very fortunate that I got to meet his dad. You talk about someone who is well off and everything but they were so down to earth that you wouldn’t know that. He didn’t flaunt anything. He was just a great guy. I can’t describe it any other way.

“If anyone ever needed anything, and even not about baseball, he would be there for them.”