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  • Writer's pictureJoe Pace

New England Sports 366, #62: Tony Conigliaro

Gone too soon.

The local kid with the hard-to-pronounce last name rose high and fast. A product of Lynn, MA, Tony C was drafted by the Sox at 17 and was at Fenway Park by 19. He holds the record for MLB home runs by a teenager with 24, and is still the youngest American Leaguer to 100 career home runs, reaching the milestone by age 22.

That same season he turned 22, he was having an All-Star campaign. He would almost certainly have helped the Sox complete their impossible dream, but on August 18 a pitched baseball struck him in the left cheekbone. He suffered damage to his jaw and eye, and missed the entire next season. By 1969 he came back, hitting 20 homers in 141 games. His 1970 season was truly remarkable, with 36 round-trippers and 116 RBI. But he was never the same. A sub-par stint with the Angels in 1971 and then a 21-game valedictory with the Sox in 1975, and it was over.

A player who might have ranked among the best ever had his career cut gruesomely and cruelly short. Tony C left life too soon as well, suffering from a heart attack and stroke in 1982 at the age of 37. In eight years he was dead, at 45.

What might have been.

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