I was there. I was there, and I was pretty close, too.
I was there the night of Aug. 18, 1967, when a Jack Hamilton fastball hit Tony Conigliaro in the face. I was sitting in a box seat not far up the third base line from the screen. I went to 27 Red Sox games that summer, and I seldom had a better seat than I did on that Friday night, the start of a four-game series with the California Angels. I had intended to buy my standard bleacher seat, but a guy sold me a box seat for face value down at Kenmore Square, and so I was hobnobbing with the swells in the $3.50 section that night rather than my usual cronies in the dollar bleacher seats (No, kiddies, I’m not making those numbers up).
I saw a lot of Red Sox history made that summer, but there are some historical events you can do without, this one being quite near the top of the list.
This is not the first time I have addressed this topic. People often say, “I will never forget this,” or “I will never forget that,” and, of course, we have no idea what we will or won’t forget as we age.
But I have not yet been able to let an Aug. 18 go by without thinking of Tony Conigliaro and the night when his life changed irrevocably. They say it only takes a baseball something like two-fifths of a second to reach the vicinity of home plate after it leaves the pitcher’s hand. But two-fifths, three-fifths, a full second, what does it matter? What matters is that Tony Conigliaro was unable to get out of the way. A Jack Hamilton fastball did not go where he wanted it to go, and Tony Conigliaro was hit. Baseball players are hit by stray, or even intended-to-hit, pitches all the time, and most of them get up and go to first base. No harm, no foul, you know? This one was very, very different.
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