Insiders close to the Phillies believe billionaire cigar tycoon and part owner John Middleton pushed to get the deal done. (AP Photo)
Middleton, whose fortune reportedly includes McIntosh Inns, a manufacturing company called Double Play and the reported $3 billion he earned from the sale of cigar company, is believed to now have the highest stake in the Phillies limited partnership, an elder group that includes Claire S. Betz, who lives in Florida, Tri-Play Associates, which includes the estate of the late Whip Buck, who died just weeks ago, and his brothers J. Mahlon Buck Jr. and William C. Buck, Double Play, with Middleton as chairman, and Giles Limited Partnership, which is Bill Giles' family partnership.
Yesterday on 610-WIP radio, Howard Eskin cited a source inside the organization in reporting that Middleton's stake has grown to close to 40 percent. Today on CSNPhilly.com, Jim Salisbury listed Middleton as one of the keys to getting the deal done. "Don’t underestimate the billionaire part owner’s impact on the Phillies’ aggressiveness. The guy is a competitor. He likes to win. You can see that when he walks around the clubhouse soaked in champagne after playoff series wins. You could see it in his eyes – they were fiery with anger and disappointment – when the Phillies lost in the NLCS in October. Middleton might be a silent partner in the public’s eye, but he’s not silent in that boardroom. He’s got some Steinbrenner in him. Once upon a time, he pushed for the Phillies to sign Jim Thome. He wants that trophy back and the deep pockets and aggressive attitude that he has brought to the ownership level has certainly impacted this franchise’s will to win."
Update: Lee passed his physical and is officially a Phillie for the next five years.