I saw god.

Not Him. Not the God. A god. Lower-case g.

He was at Meehan Field at the Nahant rotary, and he drove a red Corvette.

Tony Conigliaro.

I played for the Lynn Shore Little League White Sox. Tony C played for the Boston Red Sox.

God.

He stopped by on his way home to Nahant. He was returning from a weekend in the Army Reserve, and was wearing his fatigues. Fifty-something years later, the kids who were there will never forget.

I don’t know how to explain what stuff like that means to a 10-year-old.

He was one of us. He went to St. Mary’s. He lived in Swampscott and then Nahant. We all wanted to be him. We mimicked his hands-high slugger’s batting stance. We wanted to date a Mamie Van Doren, and sign a recording contract to sing about little red scooters.

When I was a kid, Maury Krantz hit me square in the eye with a baseball (although Charlie Lipson has convinved himself it was he). I had a cracked cheekbone – but I couldn’t have been prouder because I had a huge black eye, just like Tony’s in the photo on the cover of Sports Illustrated.

Nine months ago, I knew what I wanted on the cover of this edition of 01907. I knew the 50th anniversary of his beaning was approaching. Aug. 18, 1967. Jack Hamilton. The cover could only be the iconic photo of Tony in the hospital bed. No words necessary. At least not for any kid who grew up
around here in the ‘60s.

I didn’t know Tony Conigliaro, but one of my other heroes did. Tom Iarrobino was Tony’s St. Mary’s multi-sport teammate and friend. Read Steve Krause’s story for some of Tom’s recollections. My favorite, which is not included in Krause’s piece, is when Tony and Tom went into a Chevy dealership on the Lynnway. Tony wanted to buy a Corvette, but he and Tom were given the bum’s rush by a salesman who evidently saw two guys in Post 6 jackets and chinos as a waste of his time – even after Tony identified himself as “one of (Red Sox manager) Johnny Pesky’s guys.”

Tom recalls they drove directly to a dealership in Malden, where Tony bought the red Corvette.

If you saw the movie “Pretty Woman,” you might remember the scene in which Julia Roberts was shopping in some high-end store on, I think, Rodeo Drive. The saleswoman looked down her nose at the streetwalkeresque Ms. Roberts, who would later return after a shopping spree elsewhere with Richard Gere. She asked if the saleswoman worked on commission, showed her an armful of shopping bags, and said, “Mistake. Big mistake.”

Tom lived the scene with Tony, who drove the new Corvette he had just purchased in Malden back to the Lynnway dealership and reminded the salesman he was “one of Johnny Pesky’s guys.”

Note to John W. Henry: Friday, Aug. 18, vs. the Yankees is the golden opportunity to immortalize a hometown guy and retire No. 25.

 

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