Ruly Carpenter was devoted to her family and loved spending time with them outdoors. Like many Ducks Unlimited supporters, he believed that a strong family shared experiences in the wetlands, streams and forests.
Ruly was the principal owner and president of the Philadelphia Phillies from 1972 to 1981. With an eye for talent, he believed that if you wanted a championship organization, you had to build it. Along with Phillies general manager Paul Owens and manager Dallas Green, Ruly built one of the winningest and most beloved rosters in baseball history. This list included the likes of Mike Schmidt, Steve Carlton and Pete Rose. In 1980, the team won the franchise’s first World Series.
Family dedication and baseball came together when Ruly’s commitment to taking his sons fishing intersected with the vote to allow a designated hitter in the National League. In fact, it became one of major league baseball’s most enduring stories and the subject of the 2013 ESPN feature Gone Fishin’.
The rule allowing a designated hitter was adopted by Major League Baseball in 1973, but only for the American League. In 1980, National League team owners voted to bring the designated hitter into their league. Because he was scheduled to be out of town on a family fishing trip on the day of the vote, Ruly directed Phillies vice president Bill Giles to vote in favor of the trade. The Pittsburgh Pirates planned to vote the same as the Phillies.
There was a twist in the discussions about when to start the new rule and, unsure of the impact and unable to reach Ruly, Bill voted to abstain, and the Pirates followed suit. Ruly later said, “Although I didn’t know that someone was trying to contact me, I do know, from reading my log, exactly how many fish I caught that day with my daughter: six broadheads, 12 weak fish and two corvinas. . Not a bad day’s fishing.”
Five teams voted against the proposal, four teams voted in favor and three abstained. It wasn’t until 2022, as part of a collective bargaining agreement, that designated hitters were permanently allowed in the National League.
Peter MacGaffin, DU’s senior vice president of flight path and a friend of Ruly and his family, said, “The whole story doesn’t surprise me. Ruly was a big family man, and spending time with him is in keeping with the ‘man I grew up with. He was just a regular guy, and the Carpenters are great philanthropists, supporting many programs, not just Ducks Unlimited. Many sports programs at the University of Delaware, Blue and Gold High School All Stars and Pilot School , and programs for children with special learning needs were just a few.Ruly was known for his large, shift-like handshake that coincided with his family’s philanthropic giving.
In 1961, Ruly joined DU and served as a member until his death in the fall of 2021. Today, Ruly’s wife, Stephanie, continues the family’s commitment to conservation as Benefactor Patron of DU.