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August 23, 2013     Post-Gazette
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August 23, 2013

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Page16 BOSTON POST-GAZETTE, AUGUST 23, 2013 by Sal Giarratani Sad Story of Tony C Tony Conigliaro The Boston Globe's Bob Ryan penned a great story on Tony Conigliaro remember- ing what happened on the long-ago Friday night at Fenway on August 18, 1967 when Jack Hamilton of the Baltimore Orioles threw a fastball that hit Tony C in the face and right into his eye. Tony C was 22 years old and Hamilton 28 years old. It led to a lifetime of vision problems. That season, he missed the final six weeks of play as the Red Sox won the pennant on the final day of play. He missed all of 1968 and somehow came back in 1969 hitting 20 homers and knocking in 82 RBIs. He won that year's Comeback of the Year Award. In 1970 while his average fell, he still managed to hit 36 homers and knock in 116 RBIs. The Sox traded him to the Angels where he didn't last long and retired much too young. Tony Conigliaro was some- one who was that classic could-have-been player. He was the youngest player ever to hit 100 home-runs at age 22. His rookie season 1964 he hit a home-run at Fenway in his first major league at bat. He ended up with 24 homers that first season. In 1965, at age 20, he led the American League in home runs with 32. He could have broken Babe Ruth's lifetime HR mark everyone thought. Could have but didn't because of that one at-bat, one Friday night in August back in 1967 when he crowded the plate as usual challenging the pitcher. Hamilton took the challenge and tried to push him back but the ball appar- ently got away and landed in Tony C's face. As Bob Ryan wrote, "The Tony C story is sad on every level. It's a 'Life Isn't Fair' story. It's a what-if-he-had- listened-to-people-and- stopped-hanging-over-the- plate story." Did you know that Jack Hamilton only hit one batter in 1967 and got crucified for it while Gentleman Jim Lonborg on his way to the Cy Young that season hit 19 batters in 19677 Did you also remember that back in 1965, Conigliaro got beaned as he crowded the plate during an at bat? He .liked crowding the plate. He took the risk. Sometimes your luck runs out. August 18, 1967 wasn't Jack Hamilton's fault for hitting Conigliaro nor was it Tony C's fault for crowding the plate~ Some call it just fate which isn't often fair to anyone in either baseball or life. Trout Speaks Out During a recent radio interview in New York, the Angels' Mike Trout said he was frustrated by players who took PEDs and he would stiffen the penalties for violators to lifetime bans. He said if caught, they should be taken out of the game. Red Sox Rotation Troubles Jon Lester The Red Sox' most recent road trip shows that the Sox pitching woes could hurt them maybe 'not bad enough' to get into post-season but 'not that great' on making it through to the World Series. Right now, Jon Lester has become no better than a number three starter, when not long ago, he was the number one ace. Clay Buch- holz may not be seen again this season. He started out like Cy Young and ended up a sleeper. I am starting to refer to him as "Soft Clay" since he gets hurt so much over and over again. His market value keeps dipping. Meanwhile, the ace in the hole has become John Lackey who has become the team's most consistent and durable starter. Has a lot of losses this year but as of late is winning many too. As for Ryan Dempster? What can you say but the word "little"? They don't call him DUMPSTER for nothing. I am hoping that Jake Peavy can pass on his INNER FIRE to the rest of the starters he now joins in the rotation. Felix Doubront is a big ques- tion mark. Good games then terrible games. Orioles in Town Next Week The Baltimore Orioles are in town for three games next week and I will be sitting in a seat at Fenway Park for one of those games alongside my daughter Nealie. This is my Father's Day present this year. I don't remember the last time I went to Fenway. Years ago when the prices were so much cheaper. Thinking about the Orioles also brought back memories of Bobby D and a photo I have of him at Camden Yards with the Orioles bird mascot. Home Run Kings in AL Miguel Cabrera of the Detroit Tigers has reached the 40 home run mark and Chris Young of the Baltimore Orioles already has 45 as of August 18. No one in the NL is close to them. Cabrera is the reigning Triple Crown winner, the first since Yaz in 1967 and as of August 18a had at least 40 homers, at least 120 RBIs and batting .350 through 116 games. Since 1921, he is only the third player to do just that in 116 games join- ing baseball greats Babe Ruth and Jimmie Foxx. Bonfiglio Perini (Continued from Page 15) Perini, son of an Italian immigrant, who went on to become a millionaire, realized his boyhood dream and purchased the Boston Braves baseball team. The Braves, we found out, were one of the first baseball teams to play at night under the lights. 1948 was a great year in Boston. The Boston Braves were going to the World Series. Braves fans and all Bostonians were in a state of exhilaration. But good for- tune would not last, for on October 11, 1948 the Braves lost the series to the Cleve- land Indians -- 2 games to 4. Boston would have would have to wait another 56 years to see the Boston Red Sox compete and win the World Series. Dr. Stanley Farber of Boston Children's Hospital was treating a young boy of 12 years with cancer. Lou Perini took an interest in Dr. Farber's research into cancer. After hearing about the 12 year old Braves fan named "Jimmy," he had sev- eral members of the team visit him at the hospital. The visit was on national radio and hosted by Ralph Edwards, well-known radio star. After the radio broad- cast hundreds of contribu- tions were received at Children's. Kids across the country were setting up stands and selling lemonade, movie houses were showing promotional films and who can forget the ushers pass- ing around the cans collect- ing money for the Jimmy Fund. I don't think anyone refused to drop in some coins or dollars into the can. On March 13, 1953 The Braves moved to Milwaukee and the Jimmy Fund was taken over by the Boston Red Sox. The tradition lives on thanks to Louis Perini. Bonfiglio,(in Italian mean- ing "good son") Perini, a com- mon laborer, along with his sons and daughters have built a national and interna- tional Company that has pro- vided structures that truly have been inspiration to all as one man's vision of pro- viding quality while preserv- ing his good name. Truly, Bonfiglio Perini was a good son to his mother and fa- ther, as well as a good son to America and a good son of Italy. HOOPS and HOCKEY in the HUB by Richard Preiss The moving vans were roll- ing again, just as they have several times since he was the head coach of tile Bruins. This time they would pull up down in 171orida -- the Sunshine State -- about as deep as you can go in the Lower 48 and more than a few degrees different (both in winter temperature and in latitude) than the native land of the man who had grown up in the Canadian province of New Brunswick. And when the movers stopped they had arrived at the new address of one of hockey's most veteran itin- erants -- a m~an who got his first full-season NHL head coaching here in the Hub and has been on the move ever since. Welcome to your new home Rick Rowness. And welcome to your new team -- the Tampa Bay Lightning -- who once did set the hockey world on fire by winning the 2004 Stanley Cup. But that was then and this is now. And now might be a rebuilding year down by The Bay. But no matter. It's another team, another town and a chance for Bowness to stay active in the game he loves. And yes, it's another major move, this time all the way from Vancouver, a city blessed with some of the mildest weather in Canada to one in the states that has some of the warmest year round temperatures. Shown the door as part of a changeover when Canucks coach Alain Vigneault was fired after San Jose elimi- nated Vancouver in the first round of the playoffs, it was time once again for Rick Bowness to hit the road. The coaching veteran with 24 years of service in the NHL landed in Tampa this time, the seventh NHL team of his career. For, you see, long after leav- ing our town, Richard Gary Bowness is still chasing his dream. How many 58 year olds can say that? Darn few. But Bowness Is one of them. The dream: to be affiliated with a Stanley Cup winner, "I want to win the Stanley Cup. That's my goal," he told the Tampa Bat./ Times. "I don't care what my job description says under my name. If it's assistant skate sharpener, I don't care. I want to win a Stanley Cup." And so-for .more than two decades he h~sn't given up. He's chased the dream -- and never lost sight of it. Ironically, the two biggest disappointmerlts of Bowness' life in hockey so far have involved the Boston Bruins. Bowness was promoted to the B's head coat:hing job back in the summer of 1991 after serving for two years as the lead mentor of the Maine Mariners -- then the top AHL affiliate of the Bruins. It was a somewhat stress- ful year on Causeway Street with the roster constantly in flux. By the time the regular season had come to a conclu- sion some 55 different play- ers had worn the Bruins uni- form at some point during the campaign. But somehow it worked as Bowness managed to squeeze a 36-32-12 record out of the group at the old Garden and proceeded to have an interesting run in the 1992 Stanley Cup play- offs. The postseason saw the Bruins eliminate archrival Montreal, for example. But things came to a halt in the conference finals in late May when the Black and Gold were swept by Pittsburgh. Still, it was a fine run -- with the B's making the NHL equivalent of the Final Four. But apparently it was not good enough for some. Bowness was fired in early June, an action that hit the coach hard. He remained inside his North Shore home for several days, declining to make a public appearance. But there was life after Bos- ton. Hired by the expansion Ottawa Senators, he beat Montreal on opening night of the 1992-1993 season. He would remain in Canada's national capital until 1996. Over the years there would be other teams in other cities. A good many would make the playoffs but only one came very close to win- ning it all. That would be the 2010-2011 edition of the Canucks, a team that won the Western Conference and faced the Bruins in the Stanley Cup Final. The odds seemed to favor Vancouver, especially after the Canucks had had the B's up against the wall, with Boston need- ing to win games six and seven to claim the Cup. It was a tall order but the B's accomplished the feat, downing the Canucks and dashing the dream of Bowness. So now it's on to Team Seven for the former B's mentor who will serve as associate coach behind head man Jon Cooper. According to media reports, Bowness was given the nod over five other candidates. And it certainly won't be long before Bowness gets to visit Causeway Street with his new team. The Lighting will be in the Hub on Octo- ber 3rd -- opening night for the B's. They'll also make a return visit on November 11th. Those games will be the first in Boston for Bowness in over a year since the B's didn't play Vancouver in last season's abbreviated 48- game schedule. It's another team, another place and very much an- other time for Bowness since he led the Bruins to the Eastern Conference finals so long ago. But the dream remains the same: to hold the Cup. The next chapter in his quest begins when NHL training camps open next month. Whether it ends with him clutching the Cup re- mains to be seen. But one thing's for certain: Rick Bowness and his dream con- tinue on.