St. Mary’s High School retired the jersey number “12” worn by Tony Conigliaro during a ceremony held before the premiere of a new documentary about the former Boston Red Sox star Friday night at the Lynn Veterans Auditorium.
St. Mary’s officials, led by Head of School Dr. John Dolan, also unveiled a portrait of Conigliaro, a 1962 graduate of the school, that will be displayed in the lobby of the Tony Conigliaro Gymnasium.
Tony C was a starting quarterback at St. Mary’s, but it was his amazing high school baseball career that led to the Boston Red Sox signing him to a contract at the age of 17.
With his family watching from the stands on Opening Day in 1964 at Fenway Park, Tony C, in his first at-bat, hit a home run over the famed left wall. At the age of 20, Conigliaro became the youngest home-run king in American League history. Conigliaro was a member of the 1967 Impossible Dream Red Sox team and was selected to the All-Star Game that season. But on Aug. 18, 1967, Tony C was beaned by a fastball that struck his left cheekbone. With limited vision in his left eye, Conigliaro returned for the 1969 season and then attempted a comeback in 1975 when he was the Opening Day designated hitter for the Red Sox.
Many fans and historians, such as New England Sports Museum Curator Richard Johnson, believe Tony C was headed toward a Hall of Fame-caliber career and would have hit more than 500 home runs.
Gov. Charlie Baker was among the dignitaries paying tribute to Conigliaro, telling the large crowd that he used to attend Red Sox games as a youth and Tony C was a crowd favorite. Baker also noted how many local communities cite a connection to Tony C as one of their own.
Conigliaro was born in Revere, played Little League Baseball in East Boston, and later lived in Swampscott and Nahant. Several of Tony C’s relatives lived in Revere and they remember him playing for the East Boston Little League All-Star team at McMackin Park, Revere.
Mayor Thomas McGee proclaimed last Friday “Tony C Day” in the City of Lynn. Master of Ceremonies Mike Lynch, who grew up in Swampscott, recalled how magical a time it was when Tony C was starring for the Red Sox.
“Tony C in the 1960s was to this region what Tom Brady has been to this region since the turn of the century times five,” said Lynch. “Tony C could play, he had charisma, he was a nice guy, he never forgot where he came from, and he was very proud of St. Mary’s High School and this entire area,” said Lynch. “We were just so proud of his accomplishments, which were absolutely stunning.”
The documentary was breathtaking as narrator Joe Malone helped fans relive Tony C’s legendary baseball career. Tony C’s brother, Richie Conigliaro, appeared in the documentary while Billy Conigliaro, who played alongside Tony in the Red Sox outfield, attended the ceremony.
It was a memorable night for St. Mary’s High School and its alumni in attendance as the school honored one of its most illustrious athletes. The school has continued to build on that tradition of success in sports, with several teams winning multiple state championships in the Spartans’ highly successful athletic program led by Jeffrey Newhall.