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.
Los Angeles Angels, Joe Maddon hope to get Mike Trout before season ends, though his ‘timeline keeps getting pushed back’
Trout missed his 67th game since going on the injured list May 18 with a right calf strain. This is only the third time he has been on the injured list in his 11 big league seasons, and this is his longest stretch of missed games.
Trout, who turns 30 on Saturday, went on the injured list a day after he came up limping when he was on the bases in the first inning of a home game against Cleveland. He had been expected to miss six to eight weeks, but Tuesday marked 11 weeks since he was put on the injured list. Trout wasn’t with the team in Texas.
“Obviously, the timeline keeps getting pushed back,” Maddon said. “We all thought that he’d be playing right around now at the worst, and it’s not happening. We’ll keep playing it all the way through.”
With the Angels under .500 and in fourth place in the AL West with 55 games remaining after the second of four against the Rangers, Maddon was asked if there had been any thought of not having Trout try to return this season.
“He’s working really hard. He wants to get back, so we have not had a discussion of just giving up on him,” Maddon said.
When he got hurt, Trout was leading the major leagues with a .466 on-base percentage. He hit .333 with eight homers and 18 RBIs in 36 games.
Trout is in the third year of the $426.5 million, 12-year contract he signed during spring training in 2019. The overall value changed slightly when the pandemic shortened last season to 60 games, reducing his salary to $15 million from $36 million.
Tampa Bay Rays’ Tyler Glasnow to have Tommy John surgery Wednesday
Glasnow has been on the injured list since June 15. The 27-year-old right-hander went 5-2 with a 2.66 ERA in 14 starts.
The news was not unexpected.
Glasnow visited Dr. Keith Meister on Saturday, at which time Rays manager Kevin Cash said surgery was the likely outcome.
The decision was finalized after a follow-up examination Tuesday.
Tampa Bay began the day leading the American League East by one game over the Boston Red Sox despite having 15 pitchers on the IL.
Toronto Blue Jays’ Cavan Biggio goes on 10-day IL with nagging back issue
Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo said Biggio has been bothered by the back issue all season, but said he is hopeful the stint won’t be longer than the minimum.
Biggio, 26, went 0-for-3 with a walk in Monday night’s 5-2 loss in 10 innings. He is batting .215 with seven homers and 26 RBIs this season.
In a corresponding move, outfielder Corey Dickerson was activated from the IL and started in Tuesday night’s game against the Cleveland Indians. Dickerson was sixth in the lineup as the designated hitter.
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