These days, Red Sox Nation is used to playoff runs and World Series wins. But that wasn’t always the case.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the team’s remarkable “Impossible Dream,” which saw Boston come back to win the American League pennant in the very last game of 1967 season. While the Red Sox ended up losing to the Cardinals in the World Series, it was a helluva run for the squad, which put together its first winning season since 1958 that year and also made it to the championship for the first time since 1946.
In honor of the unforgettable season, the family of Boston sports icon Tony Conigliaro, the Red Sox and the Farrelly Brothers are teaming up to host a massive celebration at Tony C’s Sports Bar & Grill on Thursday night. The evening will include a comedy show headlined by Steve Sweeney and Lenny Clarke, music by blues artist James Montgomery, as well as a VIP reception with several yet-to-be-named local stars and Red Sox legends like Rico Petrocelli, Luis Tiant and Bill “Spaceman” Lee.
“People that go to this thing are going to be shocked,” says Richie Conigliaro, brother of the late Tony C. “I know there’s people that are going to show up there that I don’t even expect and I’m going to be in awe of them.”
Richie adds that a few players in pinstripes are also expected to attend when the Yankees come to town for a weekend series at Fenway Park.
“I’m working on getting a few Yankees there,” he says. “I know some Red Sox fans won’t like it. But it’s going to make it interesting.”
While the event is shaping up to be a fun night, it will be a bittersweet celebration for the Conigliaro family.
The 1967 season was a brutal one for Tony C, who was hit by a pitch on Aug. 18 at Fenway Park, fracturing his cheekbone, dislocating his jaw and injuring his left retina. The Massachusetts native was forced to sit out the rest of the year and was never the same player following the incident.
“It is bittersweet because he was only 22,” Richie says. “He never got to play in a playoff game, never mind the World Series. But what’s meant to be is meant to be.”
Although Tony C’s career was cut short, he racked up a ton of accolades in his short baseball career. He was selected to play in the 1967 All-Star Game months before the infamous beaning, and was able to earn Comeback Player of the Year honors a year and a half later with an incredible 20 homers and 82 RBI in just 141 games.
The late Red Sox Hall of Fame member continues to inspire Red Sox fans with his amazing legacy on and off the field. The team plans to honor Tony C with a permanent memorial at Fenway Park, which will be unveiled before Friday’s game. Richie and his brother Billy will be there to throw out the first pitch as well.
For the Conigliaro’s, they’re pleasantly surprised by how much love fans still have for Tony C.
“You have no idea how many speeding tickets his name saved me,” Richie jokes. “Everybody remembers his name, even young kids. This is now. That’s what shocks me the most. He made such an impact, that it still lasts.”
If you go:
Aug. 17, 6:30 p.m., Tony C's Bar & Grill, 1265 Boylston St., Boston, $50-$100, 1967tonycanniversaryparty.eventbrite.com