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Yale 62

Robert Ruliph Morgan Carpenter III

Ruly CarpenterBorn: June 10, 1940
Died: September 13, 2021

Robert R. M. Carpenter, known to all as “Ruly” was born in Wilmington, Delaware to Robert Ruliph Morgan Carpenter, Jr. (“Bob”), and Mary Kaye Carpenter. Ruly attended the Tower Hill School in Wilmington and was a 3 sport star in football, basketball and baseball.

At Yale, Ruly was a non-resident of Berkeley after his wedding to Stephanie Conklin. They were married for 61 years until Ruly died. Ruly was a member of Delta Kappa Epilson. He continued his multi-sport athletic career with 3 years on the varsity baseball team and Captain 1962. And 3 years of varsity football where he was a stalwart on Yale’s undefeated team in 1960.

Ruly’s grandfather had purchased out of bankruptcy the National League Philadelphia Phillies in 1943. His father succeeded as Club President and Ruly was encouraged to become involved in baseball operations after graduation from Yale while taking business courses at University of Delaware. He worked in every department, especially development of young players and the farm system.

In November, 1972 at the age of 32 he became the youngest Owner/President in baseball history when he succeeded his father Bob Carpenter.

Ruly, Paul Owens, and Dallas Green worked together to build the best farm system in baseball. The Phillies won three National League Divisional Championships in 1976, 1977 and 1978, but a World Series title eludedhis team until 1980.

Ruly built the Phillies into a champion contender with players like third baseman Mike Schmidt and pitcher Steve Carlton, both future Hall of Famers, as well as Greg Luzinski, Larry Bowa, Garry Maddox and Pete Rose, who signed with the Phillies as a free agent in 1979 after 16 seasons with the Cincinnati Reds.

Although the Phillies finished first in their division in 1976, 1977 and 1978, they lost the National League Championship Series in each of those years. Then, in 1980, they beat the Houston Astros in the N.L.C.S. and defeated the Kansas City Royals in the World Series in six games. Nearly six months later however, Ruly announced his plan to sell the team, citing spiraling player salaries caused by free agency and arbitration. “Marvin Miller didn’t force the owners to pay these ridiculous salaries,” he said, referring to the executive director of the players’ union. “We owners did it. I did it. We hoped that common sense would prevail. But it didn’t.”

“What did I think?” he said in an interview with The New York Times at the time. “You couldn’t print what I thought.”

In late October 1981, he sold the team for $30.175 million to a group led by one of his executives, Bill Giles, whose wealthy partners included Taft Broadcasting. Carpenter said he believed he would have had to bring in investors to afford the increasing cost of his players’ salaries.

“I just never liked the idea of having to contact three or four other partners if there was a big financial decision that had to be reached,” he told The Philadelphia Daily News in 2008. “And in 1981, I just looked at where baseball was and said ‘Boy, this is never going to change.’”

He was right. In 1981, the average salary of a major league player was $185,651 (about $570,000 in today’s dollars). Today, it is about $4.2 million. But team values have soared as well. Carpenter sold the team for 75 times the $400,000 his grandfather had paid for it in 1943. More recently, the hedge fund manager Steve Cohen paid nearly $2.5 billion for the Mets, a record for a baseball team.

After selling the team in 1981, Ruly served on the Board of Trustee at both Tower Hill School and the University of Delaware. He was the ultimate philanthropist, giving to countless charities, not only financially, but with his time. He enjoyed working outdoors at home and with the ground crews at the Ronald McDonald house and Tower Hill School. Ruly’s passion for sports continued even after the Phillies and was fulfilled by attending University of Delaware Football and Baseball games and the Annual Blue & Gold Football game that his father Bob co-founded in 1956 and in which Ruly played in 1958. He enjoyed watching his children and grandchildren compete in sports, rarely missing a game – rain or shine. He served as an assistant volunteer coach for the Tower Hill baseball team, culminating in a State Championship in 1987.

Regardless of his many varied accomplishments, nothing mattered more to Ruly than his family and friends. Ruly’s grandchildren knew him as “Rue Rue”, and they were his greatest source of pride along with his three children. An avid hunter and fisherman, he imparted technique and passion to all his children and grandchildren. Some of Ruly’s best days were spent hunting and fishing with his family and friends in Delaware, Maryland, and South Carolina. His friends described him as having “hands of steel and a heart of gold.” He was a quiet, humble, and selfless man who would give you everything and ask for nothing in return.

Ruly is survived by his wife Stephanie, his children: Bob (Leslie), David (Sharon Dellose), Cinda Carpenter (Gail Turner). Siblings; Mary Kaye “Coo” Murray (Jamie) and Keith Carpenter (Sharon), and nine grandchildren. Ruly was larger than life to many, his charismatic personality, humility, wit, and loyalty will forever be remembered by those who had the chance to know, learn and be loved by him.

In recognition of his achievements in sports and his support and contributions to sports at levels from youth programs to college and the major leagues, Ruly was elected to the Delaware Sports Hall of Fame in 1987.

His passing was followed by a virtual blizzard of memories and tributes in the media to Ruly’s remarkable life. He will be missed.

Services were private. In lieu of flowers, the family suggested donations may be made in Ruly’s memory to the following: University of Delaware Athletics Blue & Gold Fund: 83 E. Main Street, Newark, DE 19716; Delaware Foundation Reaching Citizens with Intellectual Disabilities (DFRC): 640 Plaza Drive, Newark, DE 19702; Pilot School: 208 Woodlawn Road, Wilmington, DE 19803 or the Centerville School: 5804 Kennett Pike, Wilmington, DE 19807.


R. G. Oliver