Everyone uses a Red Sox off day differently. Thursday, for example, Mookie Betts hosted a fund-raiser at Jillian’s & Lucky Strike Lanes, Hanley Ramirez held a hitting clinic for kids in Lawrence, and filmmaker Peter Farrelly flew in from LA to join his brother Bobby at a celebration of Sox great Tony Conigliaro, whose jersey number the Farrellys believe strongly should be retired by the team.
Ask him why and Peter Farrelly, who was 10 years old during the Sox “Impossible Dream” season of 1967, is ready with some convincing stats. (At 19, Tony C hit 24 home runs — the most ever by a teenager — and he hit 32 the next year to lead the American League.)
“It’s long overdue,” said Farrelly, whose passion for baseball was evident in the movie “Fever Pitch.” “Tony C was a guy destined to be a Hall of Famer but for the fact that he got hit in the face with a fastball.”
On Aug. 18, 1967, in the heat of the pennant race, Conigliaro, wearing No. 25, took a fastball from Angels pitcher Jack Hamilton straight on his cheekbone. He would play again, but he was never the same hitter. He died in 1990 at age 45.
Thursday, the Farrellys joined members of the Conigliaro family, former Sox players Bill Lee and Rico Petrocelli, comedians Steve Sweeney and John Pizzi, and bluesman James Montgomery for a night of laughs and memories at Tony C’s Sports Bar & Grill on Boylston Street.
“People forget, between 1948 and 1967, the Sox were terrible — only 9,000 people were at Ted Williams’s last game — but 1967 changed all that — thanks to Yaz and Rico Petrocelli and Tony C,” says Farrelly. “Tony C was the Eddie Matthews to Yaz’s Hank Aaron. I just loved the guy and he deserves this.”
While we had him on the horn, we asked Farrelly what he thinks about Red Sox owner John Henry’s announcement that he supports renaming Yawkey Way, the Jersey Street extension outside Fenway Park.
“I’m OK with it as long as it’s changed to Roger Moret Way,” Farrelly said, referring to the lefthanded pitcher who won 41 games for the Sox from 1970 to 1975.
Relax. He was kidding.