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Former Red Sox outfielder Billy Conigliaro dies at 73

Billy Conigliaro threw a ceremonial first pitch before a game at Fenway Park in 2014.The Boston Globe/Boston Globe

Major League Baseball held its first amateur draft in 1965, and with the fifth overall pick, the Red Sox selected Billy Conigliaro, an outfielder from Swampscott High School.

It was no surprise, as Mr. Conigliaro’s older brother, Tony, was the immensely popular power-hitting right fielder for the Sox.

Billy Conigliaro overcame the pressure and made his own path, debuting with the Sox in 1969 with two home runs in his first start, and going on to a five-year career in the majors that included winning a World Series ring.

Mr. Conigliaro died Wednesday at age 73, according to the Red Sox. No cause of death was given.


The Revere native was a baseball and football star at Swampscott. He was drafted as an outfielder, but several teams considered him as a righthanded pitcher.

“Billy was phenomenal,” said Channel 5 sportscaster Mike Lynch, whose father, Dick, was Swampscott’s baseball coach. “The Red Sox just didn’t take him because he was Tony’s brother.”

Mr. Conigliaro played 347 games in the majors, the first 247 with the Red Sox before he was traded to Milwaukee after the 1971 season. He landed with Oakland in 1973 and appeared in 48 games for a team that included future Hall of Famers Rollie Fingers, Catfish Hunter, and Reggie Jackson.

Tony Conigliaro (left) and his younger brother Billy Conigliaro, in 1971.Dan Goshtigian

A’s manager Dick Williams, who had managed Mr. Conigliaro in Boston, kept him on the roster for the playoffs. Mr. Conigliaro appeared in four postseason games, including three in Oakland’s World Series victory as a pinch hitter.

A knee injury ended his career after that season. Mr. Conigliaro retired having hit .256 with 40 homers and 128 RBIs, and became a businessman and entrepreneur.

In January 1982, Tony Conigliaro suffered a heart attack while being driven to Logan Airport by Billy. Tony lived another eight years, but required 24-hour assistance, which Billy devoted himself to providing.


In the years since, Mr. Conigliaro was a regular visitor to Fenway Park and served on the committee that selects the winner of the annual Tony Conigliaro Award, which goes to a major leaguer who has overcome adversity.

He is survived by his wife, Keisha.

Peter Abraham can be reached at peter.abraham@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @PeteAbe.