Tag Archives: Red Sox


“TODAY IN BASEBALL” TAKES US BACK TO BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS FEBRUARY 24, 1990. A life of such promise ended sadly at 4:30 in the afternoon on this date in 1990. Tony Conigliaro, the youngest American League player to hit 100 home runs, died of pneumonia at the age of 45. Tony C – gone too soon [also see FEB 7th story].

The turning point in Conigliaro’s life was 23 years earlier. At the time he was on top of the world. That all changed on the night of August 18, 1967. While playing for the Boston Red Sox, Conigliaro wasn’t able to get out of the way of an inside fastball from Jack Hamilton of the California Angels. The ball hit him on the left side of his face nearly blinding him. He was out of baseball for over a year.

Conigliaro made a promising recovery in 1969. His blurred and double vision appeared to have cleared up. He hit 20 home runs and drove in 82. In 1970 he had the best year of his career – 36 home runs and 116 RBI, but by ’71 his vision had deteriorated again. He wasn’t able to play in ’72, ’73 or ’74. After an unsuccessful attempt at a comeback in 1975 he retired for good. He was 30.

A legacy of Tony Conigliaro’s beaning was players starting wearing helmets with flaps on the left side for right-handed hitters and the right side for left-handed hitters. Today such helmets are mandatory.

Contributing sources:
Associated Press (AP)
, Boston, Massachusetts, February 25, 1990
Tony Conigliaro


TODAY IN BASEBALL TAKES US BACK TO REVERE, MASSACHUSETTS IN 1945 – Tony Conigilaro was born on this date outside Boston. He grew up and realized the dream of many Boston area kids – to play for the Red Sox.

Conigliaro debuted with his hometown team at age 19. He was the youngest American League player to reach the 100-home run mark. The dream, along with his cheekbone, was shattered the night of August 18, 1967 when he was hit in the face by a fastball from Jack Hamilton of the California Angels (today’s Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim). Teammate and friend Rico Petrocelli was in the on-deck circle when Tony C got drilled and later wrote in his book, Tales from the Impossible Dream Red Sox:

"I always believed there was a spot where Tony couldn't see the inside pitch. If you threw it to the right spot, he'd hit that ball nine miles. But then there was this blind spot, a little more inside. Sometimes he moved too late to get out of the way, and sometimes he never moved at all."

Conigliaro was knocked unconscious. He had to be carried off the field on a stretcher. His cheekbone was broken and his left eye severely damaged. For a time it was feared he might not survive. The cheekbone healed but he had a hole in his retina. He missed the entire 1968 season.

His vision miraculously cleared up and he played again in 1969. He hit 20 home runs and drove in 82, and was named comeback player of the year. He had the best year of his career in 1970 when he hit 36 home runs and drove in 116. He was traded that off-season to, ironically, the California Angels.

Tony C’s eyesight deteriorated again in 1971. He hit just .222 with 4 home runs and 15 RBI. He was increasingly difficult to deal with. According to the Associated Press (AP) his manager, Lefty Phillips, told reporters after a loss that Conigliaro “was ready for the insane asylum.”

Conigliaro sadly announced his retirement from baseball July 10, 1971, “I have lost my sight and on the edge-of-losing my mind.”

Tony Conigliaro, the heartbreak kid, died of kidney failure on February 24, 1990. He was 45.

Contributing Sources:
Associated Press (AP)
, July 11, 1971, Oakland, California
Seeing it Through, by Tony Conigliaro
Tales from the Impossible Dream Red Sox, by Rico Petrocelli


TODAY IN BASEBALL TAKES US BACK TO BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS IN 1958. It doesn’t seem like a whole lot today, but 39-year old Ted Williams signed a one year contract with the Boston Red Sox on this date in 1958 for a reported $125,000. It made him the highest paid player in history. Ted Williams seemed to improve with age. Red Sox General Manager Joe Cronin said the raise was much “deserved.” “Teddy Ballgame” hit .388 in 1957.

Williams was in such a good mood he sat down for more than an hour chatting with reporters he often clashed with. The left fielder said, “I feel wonderful and feel I can do anything I could do five years ago.”

He was asked about playing first base, as many aging stars do in the twilight of their careers. “I don’t know about first base, it wouldn’t look good in left field,” Williams deadpanned. Seriously, he didn’t think it would be that easy to switch from outfield to first base as he approaches his 40’s.

Williams played three more seasons and could have played more. He played 113 games in his final season, 1960, and finished with 29 home runs, 72 runs batted in and a .316 batting average.

And, oh what might have been. Williams, like many players of that era, missed three full seasons during World War II when he was in his 20’s. He missed parts of two more seasons during the Korean War. He finished with 521 home runs. If he had played those seasons it’s quite certain he would have hit well over 600 home runs.

Theodore Samuel Williams, who seemed to get better with age, was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1966.

Contributing sources:
Joe Key, Associated Press (AP), Boston, Massachusetts, February 7, 1958
Ted Williams stats 


TODAY’S STORY TAKES US BACK TO NEW YORK IN 1999. The New York Yankees traded prospect named Mike Lowell to the Florida Marlins on this date in 1999. They got three minor league pitchers in return; Mark Johnson, Eddie Yarnall and Todd Noel.

With Mike Lowell, and several other quality players, the Marlins won their second World Series in 2003 - beating the Yankees.

Lowell became a 4-time all-star with two World Series rings, one as Most Valuable Player (2007 for the Boston Red Sox).

Eddie Yarnall appeared in seven games for the Yankees and was out of baseball by 2001.

Mark Johnson was picked up by the Detroit Tigers after never making it out of the Yankees farm system. He appeared in handful of games for the Tigers in 2000, but he too was also out of baseball by 2001.

Todd Noel never made it to the major leagues and is no where to be found.

With Mike Lowell, and several other quality players, the Marlins won their second World Series in 2003 – beating the Yankees. Lowell was traded to the Boston Red Sox after the 2005 season and helped them win the World Series in ’07. They made the playoffs in ’08 winning the American League Division Series but losing to the Tampa Bay Rays in the AL Championship Series.

The Yankees did let Lowell go, but was it a bad trade? If the goal of any team is to get to the post-season, the Yankees succeeded, more often than Lowell’s teams. The Yankees went to the post season 9 of the next 10 years after the trade was made. The Florida Marlins went to the post-season once in those 10 years. Still, most Yankee fans probably believe letting Mike Lowell go in 1999 was not a good trade.

Contributing Sources:
Yankees post season
Marlins post season
Red Sox post season



It was not an auspicious off-season for the Boston Red Sox in 1981. On this date the Red Sox had to trade the only player, up to that time, to win Most Valuable Player and Rookie of the Year awards in the same season, center-fielder Fred Lynn.

They didn’t want to part with Lynn, but the front office failed to mail a contract to him by the deadline allowing Lynn to become a free agent if he wasn’t traded. He was sent to the California Angels (today’s Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim) for Joe Rudi and Frank Tanana.

Freddie Lynn came on like gang-busters his rookie season of 1975, less than two years after being drafted by the Red Sox out of the University of Southern California. He hit .331 with 21 home runs, 105 runs batted in and 103 runs scored. Oh, he also won a Gold Glove and made the all-star team.

He was almost the perfect ballplayer, as evidenced by being awarded the Most Valuable Player and Rookie of the Year awards – the first player in history to win both (Ichiro Suzuki won MVP and ROY awards in 2001, but he had already played nine seasons in the Japanese major leagues).

Fred Lynn had a very good career, but only once did he match or surpass his rookie production, that was 1979 when he hit .333 with 39 home runs, 122 runs batted in, 116 runs scored and a .416 on-base percentage.

A Red Sox blunder also cost them that Carlton Fisk that same off-season. That’s a story for another time.

Contributing source:
Joseph Durso, The New York Times, January 24, 1981