former red sox outfielder tony conigliaro was a local boy made good. he was born and raised in massachusetts, and in 1964, at the age of 19, he was playing for the red sox. he set a teenager home run record that year with 24, and would reach 100 career home runs at a younger age than any other american league player in history. the only person younger than tony c to have done so was mel ott. he was also the youngest player (20 years old) to lead the league in home runs when he hit 32 to pace the al in 1965.
conigliaro suffered a horrific beaning in august of 1967 that damaged his left eye. he missed not only the remainder of the season, but the entire 1968 season as well. remarkably, he was able to return to the majors in 1969 and hit 20 home runs, earning comeback player of the year honors. the following season, he hit a career high 36 homers, but was traded to the angels after the season ended.
his injury caught up to him in 1971, as he hit only .222 with a mere 4 home runs that year. the angels held on to him though, hoping that he would return to form, but he never did appear in the majors for them after 1971. after the halos finally released him in 1974, he returned to the red sox for one last try in 1975. after hitting just .123 with 2 homers, the red sox released conigliaro in september. in 1982, conigliaro suffered a heart attack and later a stroke, and spent the next 8 years in a persistent vegetative state until his death in february of 1990, 24 years ago today.
thanks to the massive number of baseball cards produced in 1991, there are plenty examples of the black armband that the red sox wore in 1990 to honor conigliaro. here's a 1991 donruss wade boggs all-star card
and boggs' 1991 upper deck card shows the armband on the front
as does larry anderson's
this 1991 o-pee-chee premier roger clemens card was a front runner for the memorial binder
but then i remembered dwight evans' 1991 topps card.
it is worth noting that conigliaro's 'most similar by ages' players listed on baseball reference include mickey mantle and frank robinson for his second and third seasons. bryce harper is the most similar for his rookie season, but mantle was the comp before harper came along. tony c was the real deal.