by Mark Lawrence, International Editor
Like most Red Sox fans, I’d heard of Tony Congiliaro and the terrible on-field accident that signalled the end of what might’ve been one of the greatest baseball careers of the 20th Century. But now, thanks to David Cataneo's new book, ‘Tony C’ – I know the whole story and it’s tragic for more reasons than that deadly pitch.
One hot August day during the Impossible Dream season of 1967, the 22-year-old Tony C stepped up to face Angel’s pitcher Jack Hamilton. Prior to that moment, Conigliaro had been on track to at least equal some of the records of those who’d gone before him, if not surpass them. They say he might’ve even challenged Hank Aaron’s home run record, but - Hamilton’s fastball missed and missed badly, crushing Conigliaro’s left cheekbone and severely damaging his eyesight.
He wouldn’t play ball for another eighteen months and it’s what happened during that period – and beyond – that’s so well recalled in ‘Tony C’. This is a bittersweet tale of how life can be heartless and cruel – regardless of who you are and where you’re heading – and while readers will find inspiration in Conigliaro’s determination to get back into the game he loved, the tragedy of his final years can only invoke deep sadness in anyone who knew his name. Tony C is a good read, worthy of a place on the bookshelves of Red Sox Nation.