Nobody knew if Tony Conigliaro would ever hit a baseball again, but come spring training – a year and a half after the August 1967 beaning, he made the team and did well. It was only later that we learned how hard that was, as we read his autobiography Seeing It Through. Opening Day was in Baltimore. The Orioles were a team that won 109 games in 1969. The game went into extra innings and Tony Conigliaro hit a two-run home run in the 10th inning to give Boston the lead – but then Frank Robinson of the O’s matched that for Baltimore in the home half. In the 12th inning, Tony was up again, got on base, and scored a run that proved to be the game winner. He ended up with 20 home runs, and it looked like he might see well enough to improve further in 1970. With Tony C back in right, the team felt it could trade Hawk Harrelson for more pitching. They traded Harrelson to Cleveland for Sonny Siebert in the first month of the season. The staff was led by Ray Culp at 17-8 and rookie Mike Nagy that went 12-2. Sonny Siebert was 14-10. Reliever Sparky Lyle ended up 8-3 on the year. During a day/night doubleheader in Boston on June 21, things looked grim when the Yankees scored three times in the top of the 11th inning. The Red Sox fought back, and scored four times, for an exhilarating win. Something of the flip side faced the fans who chose the second game. The Sox were one strike away from a win, but Roy White tripled, then Bill Robinson drove him in, and the Red Sox couldn’t muster the four runs in the bottom of the ninth that it would have taken to win again. On the second anniversary of when he’d been hit in the eye, Tony C hit a three-run homer to erase a 6-3 deficit in the bottom of the eighth, a game the team took in 10. For the fourth year in succession, the Sox finished ahead of the Yankees, but were in third place, 87-75, in the new A.L. East Division. And with nine games to go, Dick Williams was fired. Eddie Popowski ran things those final games.

By Bill Nowlin

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