Bobby McKenna never saw Tony Conigliaro play in person for the Boston Red Sox. But he developed an interest in the former baseball star who grew up in Revere.
McKenna mentioned his interest in Conig’s baseball career to his father, Gilbert, who as a kid, closely followed the trajectory of Tony’s baseball career.
“My dad told me Tony C was a couple years ahead of him when they were in school so all the kids were rooting for him back then,” said Bobby.
Bobby also saw Tony C’s photo in the Revere Images of America book that was sent to him by his mother, Margaret, while he was serving his country.
“When I was in the service, my mother would send me all these Revere books and all kinds of New England stuff and seeing Tony C in that book I started taking an interest in his baseball career,” said McKenna. “He was such a charismatic guy with his baseball, his singing career, and all that stuff.”
With that encouragement and
support from his parents, Bobby McKenna became inspired to keep Tony Conigliaro
forever in the thoughts of Revere.
McKenna, a 47-year-old professional graphic designer, can now point proudly with the rest of Revere at a Tony Conigliaro mural that he composed on the traffic light switch box at the corner of Revere Street and American Legion Highway directly across from the Blanchards store.
Praise for his Artistry
McKenna, 47, has been getting a lot of positive feedback for his latest artwork, following up on his Wonderland/Revere Beach murals on the Sargent Street traffic light switch box and at Sonny Myers Park on Beach Street along with his tribute to veterans mural at the Beachmont School.
Ward 2 Councillor Ira Novoselsky, a Red Sox season ticket holder since 1968, knows all about Tony C’s exploits as a Red Sox player, citing the right-handed slugger for being the youngest player in American League history to hit 100 home runs in his career. Novoselsky loves the McKenna-drawn mural.
“I remember Tony C’s career with the Red Sox very well,” said Novoselsky. “This mural will rekindle great memories for all Red Sox fans. It’s a perfect depiction of Tony’s Topps baseball card and anyone who followed the Red Sox in the 1960s is going to love it.”
In fact, the Topps baseball cards were the metrics by which McKenna considered the Tony C mural.
“I have a few of Tony C’s baseball cards and looking at those, I thought the dimensions of it were just perfect to do something like that,” said McKenna, who is the nephew of Ward 1 Councillor Joanne McKenna.
An Ideal Location for a Tony C Mural
Bobby McKenna understands the significance of the mural’s location. “Tony C grew up until the age of eight living right down the street and playing baseball at Ambrose Park which is not that far away from this corner,” related McKenna. “So I thought it was an ideal spot for a Tony C mural.”
Bobby had to submit his designs for the Tony C mural to the city for approval. The designs were improved and as soon as the weather allowed, McKenna began his project at the highly traveled location in the spring.
“I began the mural when the COVID-19 pandemic first started and everybody kind of didn’t know what was going on,” said McKenna, a 1991 Revere High graduate who received a degree from Salem State University graduate following his stint in the U.S. Marine Corps. “I wore a mask when I was on site and socially distanced from people who walked by.”
A Lasting Tribute to a Revere Kid
One of the interesting things about Tony Conigliaro is that so many neighborhoods lay claim to him. He grew up in Revere but played his Little League baseball career in East Boston. The Conigliaro family – that also includes brothers Billy and Richie – moved to Swampscott but Tony attended St. Mary’s High School in Lynn where the school gymnasium is named in his honor. The Conigliaro family once operated a restaurant in Nahant, not to mention the Conigliaro-named restaurant located on the land adjacent to where the Stop & Shop on Squire Road stands today.
Thanks to Bobby McKenna, there is a lasting tribute to Tony Conigliaro that is being seen by the thousands of motorists who travel on American Legion Highway each day.
“That’s one of the biggest kicks that I get out of doing something like that – people are driving by all day and beeping and showing their appreciation for the mural,” said McKenna.
Most importantly, Bobby gets credit for “a job well done” from his well-kown aunt who sits on the City Council.
“She loves all the work,” said Bobby of the family’s evaluation. “She can’t believe that I’d be out there three weeks in the sun working on one thing.”
What’s next for master muralist Bobby McKenna? Some are suggesting a mural for Miami Dolphins quarterback Jim Del Gaizo and his brother John Del Gaizo and other legendary RHS footballers like Joe Festa, Mike Mucci at Della Russo Stadium, but that’s a story – or a mural – for another day