Friday, May 11, 2007

Tom Yawkey League Honors Tony Conigliaro

#25 - Tony Conigliaro - A Boston Baseball hero!






























Tony C with The Say hey Kid - Willie Mayes in '66



The Thomas A. Yawkey League Board of Directors has voted to honor the memory of local Boston Area sports hero - Tony Conigliaro. Tony C was born and brought up in revere, MA. He attended St. Mary's HS in Lynn and went on to be one of the hottest local baseball prospects of the 1960's.


Conigliaro came up thru the Sox system fast and made a home run in his first Fenway Park plate appearance. he was the youngest player in major league history to strike 100 HR's and was destined for a Hall of Fame career.


As the Red Sox were entrenched in their Impossible Dream season in late August, Conig was smashed in the face with a Jack Hamilton fast ball. His life hung in the balance that night as he lay "sprawling in the dirt". "The doctors said he would be OK -- but he won't be back this season", Jess Cain once wrote. He did return - but never to the high stature and promise that he espoused.


The life of Tony Conigliaro was a mirror of a young man who lived fast, hard and well in the 1960's. When his comeback with the Sox and baseball fell short - he turned to Hollywood and a singing career.





The Yawkey League has named one of its Three Divisions in name of Tony Conigliaro. Here is a Press release from the YBL Office:




The Board of Directors have voted to name the Third YBL Division after a local - Eastern Massachusetts - baseball hero, who's life was cut short. His career was hindered by a beaning in 1967 and his Hall of Fame Dreams were shut down by set-back after set-back. The man who the YBL wishes to honor by naming its Third Division is - Tony Conigliaro.Tony C is the Boston Red Sox player who came up thru the ranks out of Revere & Lynn, MA. He hit a home run in his first Fenway at bat. Tony C reached the 100 HR mark swifter than any player in major league history. The Yawkey League celebrates the life and accomplishments of Tony Conigliaro. We are happy to draw his name into our family.


Tony Conigliaro Division


MEDFORD MAD DOGS
MALDEN BULL DOGS
REVERE ROCKIES
CHELSEA ROYALS
CHELSEA NATIONALS
EAST BOSTON BLUE


Here is a brief Bio of the late great Boston Hero - Tony Conigliaro


Tony Conigliaro was the quintessential Boston ballplayer. Born in Revere, Massachusetts toward the end of World War II, Conigliaro rose rapidly to stardom.


His handsome face and raw talent made New England women swoon. Ascending to the major leagues just a year after signing a contract with the Red Sox in 1963, Tony C wasted no time finding a niche in baseball.


He hit a home run in his first major league game. For the season, he hit .290 with 24 home runs over the first five months, but after breaking his arm in August, he saw the Rookie of the Year award go to Minnesota's Tony Oliva. When Conigliaro hit 32 homers the following season, he become, at age 20, the youngest home run champion in the history of the American League. He had also become the youngest person to reach 100 homers.


Off the field, Tony C's popularity allowed him to pursue another interest: singing! He cut several records on the RCA and Penn Tone labels.


But Tony C's life would never be the same after August 18, 1967. During a night game at Fenway Park, Conigliaro was hit in the face by a fastball from California Angels' pitcher Jack Hamilton. He suffered a broken cheekbone and temporarily lost the sight in his left eye, causing him to miss the 1968 season.


Conigliaro returned in 1969, winning the Comeback Player of the Year award. In '70, he belted 36 homers and it appeared, his career was back on track. But vision problems continued to bother him and he left the big leagues in 1971. He attempted a brief comeback in 1975 but it failed.


In 1982, Conigliaro suffered a heart attack while returning from an audition for the Red Sox telecasts. He was never the same and on February 24, 1990, this seemingly indestructible hero died.

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