Phillies Guide: A labor of love

Kathy Killian, a Holme Circle resident, has worked for the Phillies for more than 32 years and today is vice president of human resources and customer services.

Source: John Yerkov

Kathy Killian is looking forward to watching the Phillies and new manager Gabe Kapler play this season.

“There’s a lot of excitement about this team,” she said. “I really think they will have a very good season.”

Source: Kathy Killian

Killian grew up on the 1900 block of Church St. in Frankford, which she described as an “absolutely wonderful neighborhood.” She has worked for the Phillies for more than 32 years, and today is vice president of human resources and customer services for an organization that has about 1,200 employees, including players and game-night workers.

“It’s my 33rd season and the greatest thing I’ve been a part of,” she said.

The oldest of four children, she was a member of St. Joachim Parish and attended the grammar school. She played CYO basketball at Simpson Playground and the Salvation Army on Frankford Avenue.

“It was a beautiful, vibrant church back in the day,” she said. “I really loved the school and the Immaculate Heart Sisters who taught us.”

Killian went on to attend Little Flower, playing basketball and volleyball, serving in student government and taking part in the musical Annie Get Your Gun as a senior. She graduated in 1981 as part of a class of 510.

“”It’s the best place in the world. I still love it,” she said.

Next, she was off to the old Spring Garden College, which at the time was located in Chestnut Hill. She played basketball there at the Division III level, graduating with degrees in management, marketing and accounting.

At Spring Garden, she took part in a work study with athletic director Ted Taylor, handling scheduling, contracts, buses and time changes.

“I learned so much working for him,” she said.

Taylor pointed her in the direction of Frank and Peggy Steele, who had an opening for a summer intern. The Steeles marketed postcards designed by Dick Perez, an artist who has worked for the Phillies and the Baseball Hall of Fame. Killian worked for the Steeles as a “Girl Friday” for about six months until Perez recommended her to Phillies executive Dave Montgomery, who brought her on board as an intern as the 1985 season was coming to a close.

Killian, 55, has worked in South Philadelphia ever since.

“It’s been really great,” she said.

Over the years, she’s worked as a ticket sales representative and manager and director of group sales.

“I really loved customer service,” she said. “Our fans are just incredible.”

In November 2008, right after the Phillies won the World Series, she was named to the newly created role of vice president of human resources and customer services. She is the second female vice president in franchise history, following Bonnie Clark, who became VP of communications in April 2008.

In addition to her work with the Phillies, Killian spent nine years with the Holy Family women’s basketball team. She was an assistant for four years and head coach for five years, ending in 1995.

“It was my dream to coach,” she said. “The nine years I was at Holy Family helped me in what I do in human resources every day in my job. I’m forever grateful for that opportunity. It was a very beautiful place to be.”

Killian has fond memories of working with athletic director Sandy Michael and is proud that her former assistant, Mike McLaughlin, is doing such a good job as head coach of the Penn women’s basketball team.

As for her work with the Phillies, when she reached 25 years with the franchise, she received a ring. Two years earlier, she received a ring following the World Series title

Killian, a Holme Circle resident, believes her World Series ring compares very favorably to the national championship ring her younger brother, Chuck, earned in 1988 while playing football for Notre Dame and coach Lou Holtz.

“When you win the World Series and get to ride on a float down Broad Street that Halloween day, I don’t think anything can challenge that experience,” she said. “It bonds me to this group of people.”

Killian makes two or three road trips a year to see other ballparks and meet up with counterparts working for other teams. She also makes an annual trek to spring training in Clearwater, Florida.

“It’s one of the best things we do,” she said.

Killian said, “‘93 was a great highlight, too,” referring to the year the Phillies reached the World Series.

Killian credits Dave Montgomery and Bill Giles, both former presidents of the Phillies, for establishing a nice working environment and culture that employees take pride in.

Asked to name her favorites over the years, she mentions the late team ambassador and Mayfair resident Maje McDonnell, John Vukovich, Pete Mackanin, Chase Utley, Dale Murphy, Darren Daulton and Dallas Green, whom she calls “one of the finest human beings I’ve ever met.”

As the Phillies embark on the 2018 season, Killian thinks rookie manager Gabe Kapler can win over the fan base.

“Gabe is truly an incredible leader,” she said. “He’s extremely engaging.” ••