By Cary Shuman
Richie Conigliaro said his family is renewing its campaign to have his late brother Tony Conigliaro’s Red Sox jersey No. 25 retired.
One of the supporters of the effort is Revere resident Mickey Casoli, who knew Tony C. when he was growing up in Revere and remains a close friend of the Conigliaro family.
“Tony C. was not only a great baseball player but a terrific young man,” said Casoli, a former outstanding athlete himself at Revere High School in the 1940s. “Tony is the youngest player in American League history to win the home run title and to reach the 100-home run mark. He was a local boy and I truly believe he deserves the honor of having his number retired. If not for the injury [a fractured left cheekbone and damaged retina as the result of being hit by a pitch] in the 1967 season, Tony C. would be in the Baseball Hall of Fame today.”
The 64-year-old Richie Conigliaro said he’s grateful for Casoli’s support and friendship.
“Mickey has always been a great friend of the family and supporter of mine and my brothers,” said Richie. “We’re happy that he’s committed to this project.”
Richie Conigliaro said he is requesting a meeting with Sox owners John Henry and Tom Werner to discuss the possibility of retiring Tony’s number.
“We had over 250,000 signatures the last time, but the former [Red Sox] owners didn’t consider it,” said Conigliaro. “We want to sit down with Mr. Henry and Mr. Werner and talk about it. We have so many people helping us, including my brother Billy [who also played for the Boston Red Sox] and the Farrelly brothers, Bobby and Peter.”
Richie Conigliaro remembers fondly the days when he was a baseball star at Swampscott High School and his two older brothers, Tony and Billy, were playing for the Red Sox at the time.
“When I was a senior in high school, I was the captain of my baseball team and the starting outfield for the Red Sox was Yaz [Carl Yastrzemski] in left, Billy in center, and Tony in right.”
Anyone who watched Tony C. play for the Sox in the mid-1960s realized he was a developing superstar. A pull hitter with a swing tailor-made for Fenway’s Green Monster, Tony C. quickly became one of the most feared sluggers in the game. Most baseball fans projected the powerful 6-foot-3-inch right-handed hitting “Conig” as a threat to break Babe Ruth’s existing all-time home run record. (Both Hank Aaron and Barry Bonds eventually surpassed Ruth’s record).
“Tony should have his number retired – everyone agrees with that,” said Richie Conigliaro.
Mickey “Say No To Drugs” Casoli remembers the Congiliaro family’s home on Tapley Avenue in Revere.
“Tony and Billy used to play baseball at Ambrose Park,” recalled Casoli. “They were out there all the time until the sun went down.”
The Conigliaro family lived in Revere until 1951 when Sal and Theresa Conigliaro and three sons moved to East Boston. In 1962, the family relocated to Swampscott. Tony C. attended St. Mary’s High School in Lynn before being drafted by the Boston Red Sox. The high school gymnasium at St. Mary’s is named in memory of Tony Conigliaro.
Richie Conigliaro said in addition to the jersey retirement campaign, there is also a movie proposal in the works about Tony’s life.
Anthony Richard “Tony” Conigliaro died in 1990 at the age of 45. Richie has honored the memory of his deceased brother by naming one of his sons, Anthony Conigliaro II. The next “Tony C.” is a student at St. John’s Prep in Danvers where he is the second baseman for the freshman baseball team.