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BRANSON, Mo. — Jack Hamilton, whose errant inside pitch damaged the eyesight of Boston’s Tony Conigliaro in 1967 and caused a premature end to the career of the Red Sox star, has died. He was 79.

Hamilton died Thursday at the Shepherd of the Hills Living Center in Branson, the Greenlawn Funeral Home said.

Signed by St. Louis ahead of the 1957 season, he was selected by Philadelphia in a minor league draft after the 1960 season. Hamilton pitched in the major leagues from 1962 to 1969 and was 32-40 with a 4.53 ERA in 65 starts and 153 relief appearances for the Phillies (1962-63), Detroit (1964-65), the New York Mets (1966-67), the California Angels (1967-68), Cleveland (1969) and the Chicago White Sox (1969).

He went 9-12 as a rookie, leading the National League in walks with 107 and wild pitches with 22.

Hamilton was traded from the Mets to the Angels in June 1967 and had won eight of his first 10 decisions overall that year going into a start at Boston’s Fenway Park on Aug. 18, 1967. He threw a pitch in the fourth inning that fractured Conigliaro’s left cheekbone, dislocated his jaw and left him with retina damage and blurred vision. An All-Star who at 22 became the youngest American League player to reach 100 home runs, Conigliaro had helped put the Red Sox in position to win their first pennant since 1946.

“It was a high fastball,” Hamilton told The Associated Press in 1987. “He didn’t move at all. He didn’t even flinch, jerk his head or anything. It was hard to sit there and take a pitch like that.”

Conigliaro, whose batting stance crowded the plate, missed the rest of the season and all of 1968. Without him, the Red Sox lost the World Series to St. Louis in seven games.

As Conigliaro was leaving the dugout for the on-deck circle before the fateful pitch, a fan threw a smoke bomb near Angels left fielder Rick Reichardt, causing a delay of about 10 minutes.

“Just before he made his first pitch, I wondered if the delay had caused his arm to stiffen,” Conigliaro said about Hamilton in a first-person account published by Sports Illustrated in June 1970. “It was the last thought I had before he hit me. The ball came sailing right toward my chin. Normally a hitter can jerk his head back a fraction and the ball will buzz by. But this pitch seemed to follow me in.”

Not realizing the extent of the injury, Hamilton did not rush to assist Conigliaro.

“When I found out how serious it was, I tried to visit him at the hospital, but they were only letting the family in,” Hamilton said told the AP. “I never had a chance to see him or say anything to him after that.”

Major League Baseball did not mandate earflaps on the side of the helmet closest to the pitcher until it was required for all new players starting in 1983.

Conigliaro returned to the Red Sox for 1969 and 1970, and for the Angels in 1971. Vision problems reoccurred, causing him to miss three big league seasons, and he retired at age 30 after appearing in 21 games for Boston in the first half of the 1975 season.

Hamilton is survived by wife Jan, daughter Karla, son Kyle, three sisters and four grandchildren.

A memorial service is scheduled for Tuesday at the Sanctuary of Hope in Branson, and another service and burial will take place this spring in Iowa, where he was born in Burlington on Dec. 25, 1938.

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Former Oakland Athletics pitcher Dave Stewart bids $115 million on share of Oakland Coliseum

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Former Oakland Athletics pitcher Dave Stewart submitted a $115 million bid to buy the city of Oakland’s share of the Coliseum with plans to develop the site, he told the San Francisco Chronicle.

With both the NBA’s Warriors and NFL’s Raiders leaving the site in recent years, the A’s are the last pro team using the Coliseum. The team has undergone steps to build a new ballpark at Howard Terminal, about seven miles uptown.

The A’s currently own the other half of the Coliseum.

In a Tweet on Saturday night, Stewart, who grew up in the area, said doing “right by our community” is the driving force behind the bid. He told the Chronicle he has ideas of developing the area and potentially building a new stadium there if plans for the Howard Terminal ballpark fall through.

Stewart, 63, played parts of eight seasons in Oakland and helped the team win a World Series in 1989.



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Tri-City ValleyCats suing Major League Baseball, Houston Astros

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TROY, N.Y. — Left in the lurch by minor league contraction, the Tri-City ValleyCats have filed a lawsuit against Major League Baseball and the Houston Astros.

The suit, filed Thursday in New York State Supreme Court, seeks more than $15 million, ValleyCats chairman Doug Gladstone told the Albany Times-Union. The move comes in response to MLB’s decision to drop 42 minor league affiliates.

The ValleyCats played in the now-defunct New York-Penn League, operating as a short-season affiliate of the Astros for 18 seasons.

Gladstone told the Times-Union the loss of the affiliation greatly affected the value of the franchise, which was moved from Pittsfield, Massachusetts, to Troy in 2002 by Gladstone’s late father. It had previously been located in Little Falls, New York.

The ValleyCats won three New York-Penn League championships and drew more than 4,000 fans per game for 11 straight seasons, from 2008-18.

In their most recent season, Tri-City had the third-highest attendance in the 14-team league, averaging more than 3,869. The only two teams that were higher, Brooklyn and Hudson Valley, survived with moves to a new league.

The team is joining the independent Frontier League and will continue to play its home games at Joseph L. Bruno Stadium.

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LHP Martin Perez returns to Boston Red Sox on one-year deal, source says

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Veteran left-hander Martin Perez has agreed to a one-year, guaranteed $5 million contract to return to the Boston Red Sox, a source confirmed to ESPN’s Jeff Passan.

Perez’s agreement, which was first reported by the Athletic, includes a club option for a second year for 2022.

The 29-year-old spent last season with the Red Sox, going 3-5 with a 4.50 ERA, after going 10-7 with a 5.12 ERA during the 2019 season with the Twins. He had spent the previous seven seasons with the Texas Rangers, posting double-digit wins three separate times.

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