When Jack Hamilton’s pitch struck the left cheek of Tony Conigliaro’s face, it left a linear fracture of his cheekbone, dislocated his jaw and caused severe damage to his left retina. It was sometime during the 1968 season that it was revealed that the retina damage created a blind spot in Conig’s eye and it appeared to be permanent.
Not about to give up, he launched a comeback as a pitcher. And it was during that time that something miraculous occurred!
While taking batting practice one day he discovered that he could actually see, and see clearly. And he began stroking the ball. The doctors confirmed the “blind spot” had in fact dissipated and Tony C began working his way back! On April 8, 1969 he was batting fifth and playing right field when the Red Sox opened the season at Memorial Stadium in Baltimore. He had struck out, walked and singled when he stepped to the plate in the top of the 10th inning in a 2-2 tie.
And put the Red Sox ahead 4-2! But he was not done. The Orioles tied the game in the bottom of the inning and Conig walked to lead off the 12th ultimately scoring the winning run in a 5-4 Red Sox win.
Six days later, the Orioles traveled to Fenway Park for the Red Sox home opener. There were 33,899 members of the Fenway Faithful who welcomed Tony C. back to the place he loved, to the game he loved. He did not disappoint them going 1-4 and knocking in what proved to be the winning run.
In 1969, his batting average slipped to .255 however he did show some of that pop was still present hitting 20 home runs and knocking in 82 runs.
And he could still run the ball down in right field.
to be continued…..
And so it was on this time in Fenway Park history, the season of 1969.