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Tony Conigliaro
Right fielder
Born: January 7, 1945(1945-01-07)
Revere, Massachusetts
Died: February 24, 1990 (aged 45)
Salem, Massachusetts
Batted: Right Threw: Right 
MLB debut
April 16, 1964 for the Boston Red Sox
Last MLB appearance
June 12, 1975 for the Boston Red Sox
Career statistics
Batting average     .264
Home runs     166
Runs batted in     516
Teams
Career highlights and awards

Anthony Richard Conigliaro (January 7, 1945 - February 24, 1990), nicknamed "Tony C" and "Conig",[1][2] was a Major League Baseball outfielder and right-handed batter who played for the Boston Red Sox (1964-67, 1969-1970, 1975) and California Angels (1971). He was born in Revere, Massachusetts, and was a 1962 graduate of St. Mary's High School (Lynn, Massachusetts). During the Red Sox "Impossible Dream" season of 1967, he was hit in the face by a pitch, causing a severe eye injury and derailing his career. Though he would make a dramatic comeback from the injury, his career was not the same afterwards.

Contents

Baseball career

In his 1964 rookie season, Conigliaro batted .290 with 24 home runs and 52 RBI in 111 games, but broke his arm and his toes in August.

In his sophomore season in 1965, Conigliaro led the league in home runs (32). He was selected for the All-Star Game in 1967. In that season, at age 22, he became the youngest player to reach a career total of 100 home runs.[3]

On August 18, 1967, the Red Sox were playing the California Angels at Fenway Park. Conigliaro, batting against Jack Hamilton, was hit by a pitch on his left cheekbone, and was carried off the field on a stretcher. He sustained a linear fracture of the left cheekbone and a dislocated jaw with severe damage to his left retina.[4] The batting helmet he was wearing did not have the protective ear-flap that has since become standard.

A year and a half later, Conigliaro made a remarkable return, hitting 20 homers with 82 RBI in 141 games, earning Comeback Player of the Year honors. In 1970, he reached career-high numbers in HRs (36) and RBI (116). That season he and his brother Billy formed two-thirds of the Red Sox outfield. After a stint with the Angels in 1971, he returned to the Red Sox briefly in 1975, but was forced to retire because his eyesight had been permanently damaged.

Conigliaro batted .267, with 162 home runs and 501 RBI during his 802-game Red Sox career. With the Angels, he hit .222, 4, 15, in 74 games. He holds the MLB record for most home runs (25) hit by a teenaged player. He is the 2nd youngest player to hit his 100th homer (after Mel Ott in 1931).

Final years

On January 3, 1982 Conigliaro, in Boston to interview for a broadcasting position, suffered a heart attack while being driven to the airport by his brother Billy. Shortly thereafter, he suffered a stroke and lapsed into a coma. Conigliaro remained in basically a vegetative state until his death more than 8 years later. He lived these final years at his parents' home in Nahant, Massachusetts. In February, 1990 he died in Salem, Massachusetts at the age of 45. In commemoration, the Red Sox wore black armbands that season.

Currently, the Tony Conigliaro Award is given annually to the player who best overcomes an obstacle and adversity through the attributes of spirit, determination and courage that were trademarks of Conigliaro.

Conigliaro's Corner

For the start of the 2007 season, Red Sox ownership added a new 200-seat bleacher section on the right field roof, providing an additional 16,000 available tickets for the season.[5] It was named "Conigliaro's Corner" in honor of Tony Conigliaro. The seats are being marketed specifically towards families.[5] As of May 2007, the section is reserved for Red Sox Nation members on Saturdays and Red Sox Kid Nation members on Sundays.[5] The seats were removed prior to the start of the 2009 season.

However, this little section of seats, (since removed as mentioned above), high above right field in foul territory was not the original "Conig's Corner". Long time fans will recall that when Tony first was making his comeback he complained about not being able to see the ball well coming from the pitcher's hand because of all of the brightly colored clothing being worn by fans directly behind the pitcher in dead center field. To address Tony's problem these seats was first blocked off and covered in black tarp to provide a better hitter's background. This little triangular area of seats directly adjacent to the centerfield TV camera nest was the original Conig's Corner at Fenway Park. Note that these same seats are still blocked off for day games (for the same reason), but their association with Tony C appears to have been lost over the decades.

Bibliography

  • Seeing It Through, Macmillan, 1970. (With Jack Zanger.)

See also

References

External links

Preceded by
Harmon Killebrew
American League Home Run Champion
1965
Succeeded by
Frank Robinson
Preceded by
Ken Harrelson
AL Comeback Player of the Year
1969
Succeeded by
Clyde Wright

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