Sports

A busy week ahead for the Conigliaro family

A trio of Tony Conigliaro's friends will gather to share memories of the late St. Mary's and Red Sox star. (Courtesy Photo)

BOSTON — It promises to be a busy week for the Conigliaro family.

Rich and Billy, the surviving younger brothers of the late Tony Conigliaro, will be in great demand, beginning tonight when they’ll be representing their brother on the field to honor the 1967 “Impossible Dream” team’s 50th anniversary.

One night later, the Red Sox, the Conigliaro Family, and movie producers the Farrelly Brothers are hosting a comedy night at Tony C’s on Boylston Street, beginning at 7:30.

Then, on Friday — the actual 50th anniversary of the night Conigliaro was hit by a fastball thrown by Jack Hamilton of the California Angels — the Red Sox will unveil a wall with memorabilia from the 1967 season in Section C of Fenway Park. Billy and Rich Conigliaro have been asked to throw out the first pitch of the game against the New York Yankees.

Friday, said Rich Conigliaro, there will be a moment of silence at 8:42 p.m., the exact moment when his brother was felled by the pitch.

“It’s going to be a hectic week,” he said. “(Channel 5’s) Mike Lynch is going to do his live sportscast from (the comedy show) Thursday. There are going to be a lot of surprise stars that the Farrellys are bringing. I can’t say who they are. That was the agreement.”

Of all the things the Red Sox plan for the week, retiring Tony’s No. 25 is not among them. Rich Conigliaro said Tuesday that there are no immediate plans to do that.

“At some point,” he said, “they’re going to have to retire it. We’re still working on it, and we’ll keep working on it. I am not going to give up until I breathe my last breath.”

But Rich Conigliaro says that Thursday’s comedy night/party “should be a fantastic night.” Among those who are expected to attend are comedian Lenny Clarke and boxer Mickey Ward.

Tony Conigliaro, who lived in Revere and Swampscott, graduated from St. Mary’s High School, where he starred for the varsity baseball team.

“Lynn is so much of what Tony was about,” said his brother. “It’s where he played. That’s how he made it.”

By 1964, at the age of 19, he was a rookie for the Red Sox, and he hit the first pitch he saw at Fenway Park over the left-field screen for a home run.

A year later, Conigliaro won the American League home run title. He developed a reputation of being among the league’s best clutch hitters.

At the same time, Conigliaro, because of his youth and matinee-idol looks, signed a recording contract and released a series of early 1960s-style rock ‘n’ roll records such as “Playing the Field” and “Little Red Scooter.”

Conigliaro was a big part of the 1967 season through Aug. 18. However, he was in a slump through the first part of the month, and he had vowed to be more selective of pitches and to stand closer to the plate so he could get a better look at them. In the bottom of the fourth inning of a scoreless game, with George Scott on first base after having singled, he was hit by the pitch. He had to be taken off the field on a stretcher, and was rushed to Sancta Maria Hospital in Cambridge.

He suffered a concussion, a fractured cheekbone and a detached retina from being hit. He missed the rest of the 1967 season and all of the following year before returning to the Red Sox in 1969. He hit a two-run homer in the first game of the season against the Baltimore Orioles.

However, his eyesight deteriorated again, and he had to retire in 1971. He suffered a heart attack in 1982, and died eight years later, in January of 1990.

Rich Conigliaro says he’s looking forward to meeting up with some of the players on that 1967 team. Only 15 in 1967, he used to ride into Fenway Park with his older brother and hang out in the clubhouse.

“They were real good guys,” he said of the members of that team, some of whom he expects to see at Thursday’s event. “It’s going to be a special night.”

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