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.
Fernando Tatis Jr. leaves San Diego Padres game with undisclosed injury
Tatis struck out swinging against Anthony DeSclafani and winced in pain as he fell to the ground. He cradled his left arm while he got up, and two athletic trainers helped hold his left arm against his body as he left the field.
The 22-year-old Tatis left a game late in spring training with left shoulder discomfort but was back two days later. Manager Jayce Tingler said then that Tatis had been dealing with left shoulder discomfort since his minor league days. Tatis later said he’d had it since rookie ball.
Tatis committed five errors through the first four games.
He signed the longest contract in big league history on Feb. 22, a 14-year, $340 million deal.
Black Keys drummer Patrick Carney fills in at Cleveland Indians’ home opener
CLEVELAND — Patrick Carney wasn’t nervous before his first live drumming gig in more than a year, just honored.
A lifelong Indians fan and one half of The Black Keys, the Grammy Award-winning rock duo from Akron, Ohio, Carney filled in Monday at Cleveland’s home opener for drummer John Adams, who is recovering from heart surgery.
Adams missed his first home opener since 1973, ending a run that has featured him sitting high in the left-field bleachers and pounding a steady beat whenever the Indians are hitting.
Carney was thrilled to be able to sit in for Adams.
“I’m stoked to be here for John,” Carney told The Associated Press about two hours before the Indians hosted the Kansas City Royals at Progressive Field. “It’s the best seat in the house and I wish John could be here, obviously. When I heard he wasn’t healthy enough to make it, I thought it was good way to pay some respect to him and show him some love.”
Before he could begin banging away, Carney was bestowed drumming duties by Adams during a video presentation in the first inning.
Carney’s appearance didn’t spark the Indians, who managed just three hits and were shut out 3-0 by the Royals.
Carney said he attended his first Indians game in Cleveland when he was “5 or 6” and that one of his close friends who accompanied him to that game decades ago was attending the opener.
Like so many musical acts, The Black Keys haven’t been on a stage since just before the COVID-19 pandemic shut down normal life.
“This is my first show since last January,” Carney said. “Crazy. This is gonna be fun.”
Carney said he’s looking forward to concerts resuming and that he and bandmate Dan Auerbach could have an announcement next week on their upcoming plans.
Coors Field expected to host 2021 MLB All-Star Game, sources say
Coors Field in Denver is expected to host this year’s All-Star Game, sources told ESPN’s Buster Olney on Monday.
MLB opted to move the game out of Atlanta due to voting laws passed in Georgia last month.
It will mark the second time the homer-friendly home of the Colorado Rockies will host the Midsummer Classic. The American League beat the National League 13-8 at Coors in 1998.
This year’s All-Star Game originally was scheduled for July 13 at Truist Park, home of the Braves. However, on April 2, MLB announced that it decided to move the game out of Atlanta due to a new Georgia law that has civil rights groups concerned about its potential to restrict voting access for people of color.
Commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement at the time that he discussed the potential move with individual major leaguers and the Players Alliance, an organization of Black players formed after the death of George Floyd last year, before ultimately deciding to make the call “as the best way to demonstrate our values as a sport.”
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp signed into law last month a sweeping, Republican-sponsored bill that includes new restrictions on voting by mail and greater legislative control over how elections are run. The bill, which also prohibits volunteers from distributing food and water to voters waiting in line, was finalized on March 25 roughly 15 miles from Truist Park.
The new voting law came in the wake of the first Democratic victories in presidential and Senate elections in Georgia in a generation, which triggered repeated unproven assertions by former President Donald Trump that the state’s election was fraudulent. Supporters of the new law have said it merely ensures election integrity and stamps out potential fraud, while critics have described it as a voter suppression tactic that would make it more difficult for minorities, particularly people of color, to vote, citing how it reduces ballot access in urban communities that lean Democrat.
Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.
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