How a Delawarean engineered the Fightin' Phils' big deal. Plus, Homeland Security takes a very close look at Wilmington U., the next Elena Delle Donne?, and more.
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Phillies assistant GM Scott Proefrock of Wilmington helped bring superstar Cliff Lee back to Philadelphia, thus creating a starting pitching lineup that some say may be the greatest of all time.
DT: What was your role in the signing?
SP: I know his agent (Darek Braunecker) on a personal basis. Last year I don’t think anyone wanted Cliff to leave. I sent messages wishing Cliff well over the course of the year into the playoffs. After the World Series was over, Darek and I touched base. The bottom line was Cliff wanted to come back here. It created potentially one of the greatest rotations of all time. It’s a special group.
DT: The Phils have also recently lured Roy Halladay and Roy Oswalt. Why does everybody seem to want to play in Philly?
SP: It truly has become a destination. As Cliff said, it’s different than any other place. I look out my window on a Tuesday afternoon in May, it’s mid-day, and they’re tailgating. It’s a football atmosphere. The support of the fans has been unbelievable. I think everything this organization does is to reward our fans for their support.
DT: How did you wind up with the Phillies?
SP: (Then-assistant Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr.) and I had had interaction at GMs meetings. We had a relationship. I wouldn’t say were best buddies, but we had a mutual respect. I had a strong comfort level and a great deal of respect for him. During the World Series in ’08, I was rooting for Tampa because of my ties with them. I got a text from Ruben that morning before Game 4. I was going to the game and he wanted to talk to me. We met on the third or fourth deck behind my seats. He asked if I would be interested in coming to the Phillies if he was named GM. One thing about this organization—they treat employees first-class all the way. I’ve been made to feel a part of everything. Ruben gave me the opportunity to handle arbitrations and negotiate contracts. I’ve just been part of what Ed Wade, Pat Gillick, Ruben and the others have established here.
DT: What’s been your greatest accomplishment so far with the Phillies?
SP: Helping to bring Cliff Lee back to Philadelphia. We still have to play the games obviously, but it truly set us up for short-term and long-term success.
DT: How did you wind up in Delaware?
SP: My wife (the former K.K. Keegan) graduated from Ursuline Academy. Her parents live in Wilmington. It’s a long story (about a lawsuit involving their home in Baltimore), but my in-laws have been gracious enough to let us stay with them.
DT: Sorry to get so personal. We just wanted to make sure it’s OK with you that we’re claiming you as a Delawarean.
SP: That’s fine. You’ll make my in-laws happy. They’re a longtime Delaware family. Jim Keegan, my father-in-law, he’s like the mayor of Wilmington. I can’t go anywhere where he doesn’t know five or six people. It’s quite a family. I’m blessed to be a part of it.
DT: Are they Phillies fans?
SP: My understanding is that they’ve always been Phillies fans. Their whole family is very sports-oriented. Jim knows Dallas Green through charitable efforts over the years. They’re also friendly with the Carpenters. My sister-in-law works with Ruly right now. There’s always been a connection.
DT: Is it good or bad that your wife is a Phillies fan?
SP: It’s a good thing. She always brings me back to earth. She says, ‘You’re not saving lives.’ One thing with my job—and K.K. has known it since we started dating in Atlanta—she understands the travel because she’s a sports fan.
DT: What are your favorite restaurants in Delaware?
SP: The one restaurant I go to regularly is Kid Shelleen’s. I spend a lot of time on 202, so I go to the Charcoal Pit.
DT: Have you encountered autograph-seekers here?
SP (laughing): They would have to throw out whatever I autographed because it will probably be worth less than it was before I signed it. I doubt my signature is worth anything, except maybe on a contract.
DT: Will (former Blue Rock) Mike Sweeney be back this season?
SP: We had interest in bringing him back as a non-roster invite. I know Ruben has had dealings with his agent. Mike is a great person. He had a great career. He really enjoyed being here last year. I can’t tell you how many times he hugged me when we won the division series last season.
DT: Ever had any run-ins with the Phanatic?
SP: Nothing that has caused me a personal injury.
DT: It seems a lot of what you do goes unsung. Is that true?
SP: I prefer it that way. I like to keep as low a profile as possible. It’s not about what I do. It’s about putting a team together and in a situation where they can succeed. We’re all facilitators for the players. We create the best environment, the best lineup and turn them over to Charlie Manuel and the staff. It’s a great formula here.
DT: You’re in a great position with the Phillies right now, but do you have higher aspirations down the road?
SP: I believe that if you do your job and do it well, all of that takes care of itself. I’m very happy here and I’d be happy here for a long time to come.
DT: Who’s older, you or Jamie Moyer?
SP (laughing): I’m a little bit older than Jamie—two years. I think he just turned 48 last year.
DT: So is it another World Series title for the Fightins this year?
SP: We have raised the bar to where, if we are unable to do that, everyone will be disappointed. —Drew Ostroski
Page 2: Delaware's Most Wanted? | Homeland Security is more than mildly interested in a group of Wilmington University students.