Tony now knew his baseball career was behind him. Resolution came with that as he pursued his future and that future came with a natural match, a TV sportscaster in Providence Rhode Island. And why not, after all he had the looks of a pop idol!
And he had achieved a decent level of success as a recording artist while he was playing.
Sports and TV were a perfect combination for Tony Conigliaro and after a brief stint in Rhode Island, Tony headed back to the west coast, only this time to San Francisco.
Frisco was a much better fit for Conig and he thrived there. Then word came from Boston that Ken Harrelson was leaving his post as a color commentater for the Boston Red Sox. Tony jumped at the chance and flew home for the interview. An interview he aced and with everything set to go, Tony C was heading home, back to the Red Sox and back to Fenway Park. On his way to the airport with his brother Billy, returning to settle things in San Francisco Tony suffered a massive myocardial infarction.
Billy rushed him to Mass General Hospital where they were able to save him, however after four months in a coma Tony Conigliaro was gone. Suffering massive brain damage, he was left needing 24 hour care and he was devotedly looked after by his family until his death in 1990 at the age of 45.
Tony C. steps in for his first Fenway at bat.
On opening day 2004 at Fenway Park I was seated in the lower third base box as the Red Sox kicked off the ’04’ season commemorating the 40th anniversary of Tony C’s Fenway debut. On the field were the 2004 St. Mary’s of Lynn High School baseball team (Tony’s alma mater) Johnny Pesky (Tony’s first manager) Tony’s brothers Billy and Richie and throwing out the first pitch was Tony’s namesake, his four year old nephew, Tony Conigliaro. The jumbo-tron in centerfield played Tony’s first Fenway at bat and once again Curt Gowdys call was heared, “he hit a bomb!” And for an ever so brief moment the energy that was Tony C once again reverberated throughout Fenway Park. It is fitting that the magic that became 2004 would begin with a celebration of the magic that was Tony C.
It is difficult to not wax poetic when it comes to the tale of Tony Conigliaro. For at a time when he should have been putting the finishing touches on a phenomenal baseball career and awaiting the call from Cooperstown, he was gone. He was indeed the meteor that screamed across the sky while we mere mortals paused and watched. He was the rose blooming in such brilliance ones breath shortened in its presence. He was the butterfly floating in its gracefulness, too beautiful to last but for a whisper in time.
Yet as all wonders do, he left an indelible mark and those who love this greatest of games and got to see him play, decades later shake their heads at the magic, the grace, the guile, the tragedy!
Good night Sweet Prince and thank you. Thank you for the wonder of it all.
And so it was at this time in Fenway Park history 1964-1975, Tony’s time.
Thank you for writing this. Tony & Billy & the crew were my cousins…
Lauren, Thanks so much. Tony was one of my all time favorites when I was a kid and his story still moves me. Thanks again for sharing your thoughts.
Any and EVERYTIME i read ,hear ,see his name and watever little blurb written with it i and without shame tear up thinking of how amazing and yet unfair his story is and was
He was special James, one of the most clutch hitters I ever saw!!! Thanks for sharing.