MIAMI - Phillies team president David Montgomery remained hospitalized after undergoing surgery to remove cancer from his right jaw bone, the Daily News learned yesterday morning.
Montgomery, who turns 68 next month, is expected to make a full recovery.
The surgery, which was performed at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, involved having a bone removed from his leg and transplanted to his mouth. He is expected to be hospitalized for another week.
"It's sad, it's tough," first baseman Ryan Howard said before the Phillies took batting practice in Miami. "Our thoughts and prayers go to him and his family. I hope everything with the surgery was a success."
A Philadelphia native, Montgomery began his career with the Phillies in 1971. He worked his way through organization ranks for the next 3 decades.
In June 1997, Montgomery succeeded Bill Giles as general partner, president and chief executive officer of the team.
The Phillies sent an email to their employees with the news on Montgomery early yesterday, a day after the organization raised just under $1 million at its annual ALS Phestival on Monday night.
Manager Ryne Sandberg called his team together before they took the field yesterday and said he could "hear a pin drop" when he passed along the message concerning Montgomery's health.
"In a lot of ways, [he's] our biggest fan," Sandberg said. "From my experience here the last 4 years, he's the guy who sets the tone, as far as it being a family-oriented organization - first-class, the right way.
"He's the leader of the organization. He set the tone at the top, no matter if it's the players reaching out in the community for their events . . . or the way the players have it so good, as far as being treated first-class. It all starts with David Montgomery."
Beyond the Phillies organization, Montgomery is also well respected throughout Major League Baseball. Only last week, he was named to a seven-man committee that will help find a successor to commissioner Bud Selig in January.
Montgomery is in his 43rd season with the Phillies.
"He's been here ever since I came into the organization, came into the league," Howard said. "He's always been nice to me, nice to my family. He always has a smile on his face. We definitely want him back healthy, safe and sound."