Tony Conigliaro

From BR Bullpen

1965 Topps #330 Tony Conigliaro

Anthony Richard Conigliaro

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Tony C and the Career That Wasn't[edit]


One of baseball's most tragic cases, Tony Conigliaro is among the top of the all-time fan favorites in the history of the Boston Red Sox. He was young, attractive and a local boy, hailing from the North Shore just outside of Boston. His promising young career took a devastating turn when he was hit in the face by a fastball from California Angels pitcher Jack Hamilton on August 18, 1967. Some of his accomplishments include hitting a home run in his first at bat at Fenway Park, becoming the youngest home run champion in the history of the American League at the age of 20 and becoming the youngest player in American League history to hit 100 home runs (22 years, 197 days). Although he attempted two comebacks, his career was never the same for very long. He died a premature death at the age of 45.

As a rookie in 1964, he hit 24 homers at the age of 19. He was the only teenager to hit 20 homers in a season until joined by Bryce Harper in 2012; Juan Soto became the third in 2018.

Who knows what Tony could have done if he had never been hit in the face. If you carry his average numbers over the course of a 20-year career, his numbers are quite impressive. Although this type of analysis is conjecture at best, one could imagine Conigliaro with between 500 and 600 home runs. Here is my theoretical evidence. He averaged a home run for every 17.62 at bats before his injury. He had already logged 104 home runs at that time at the age of 22. If he had been able to play until the age of 38 while maintaining similar numbers and staying reasonably healthy, is it doubtful that he would have been among the top ten in home runs? Of course, this is all up for debate. We will never know. We can only appreciate the brief career for what it was.

This "what if" scenario came to mind after a brief conversation I had with Bill Monbouquette before a minor league game where he is the pitching coach for the Oneonta Tigers. He was Tony C's teammate during the 1964 and 1965 seasons. During the conversation, he told me of the times that he would tell Tony how to avoid an inside pitch. Tony's tendency was to always open up toward the pitcher to avoid a pitch thrown inside. Bill would tell him numerous times to turn away from the pitcher and toward the catcher, thus protecting himself and exposing only his backside to the pitch. If you take a look at the pictures of the night of his injury, sure enough, he did not follow Mr. Monbouquette's advice.

If only .......

--D.A.S. 16:23, 27 Jul 2005 (EDT)

He was the brother of Billy Conigliaro

Notable Achievements[edit]

Further Reading[edit]

  • Tony Conigliaro (as told to George Vass): "The Game I'll Never Forget", Baseball Digest, June 1974, pp. 82-85. [1]
  • Bill Nowlin: "Tony Conigliaro", in Bill Nowlin and Cecilia Tan, ed.: '75:The Red Sox Team that Saved Baseball, SABR, Phoenix, AZ, 2015, pp. 152-157. ISBN 978-1-933599-97-7

Related Sites[edit]