“Tony C: The Triumph and Tragedy of Tony Conigliaro” by David Cataneo
Baseball, biography, Red Sox
April 15, 2016
3 of 5 stars (good)
When a baseball fan hears the name “Tony Conigliaro” the first thought that comes to mind that his story is a tragedy – he was young, talented, good-looking, a heartthrob to young women, and was playing for his hometown Boston Red Sox when he was struck in the eye by a pitch in August 1967. While he came back to play baseball after recovering from the injury, he was never the same player again. His story is told in this biography by sportswriter David Cataneo.
The book is well researched and the reader will have a complete picture of Conigliaro’s life, not just his baseball career or the events of that fateful plate appearance. His high school and minor league success is well documented, as is his love for his high school sweetheart. He lived the life of a playboy off the field, and on the field he is portrayed as a cocky, self-assured young man, and then goes out and backs up his bravado with outstanding play.
The narrative is very supportive of Tony and portrays him in a very favorable light in most instances. Even in situations that one may question his actions or why he thinks in the manner he did, Cataneo explains why this happened and frames it in a way that will make the reader take Conigliaro’s side in nearly every case. I didn’t think it was necessary in every case and one in particular, why Conigliaro would never shake the hand or speak to the pitcher who threw the pitch that hit him, Jack Hamilton, the writing seemed to be making excuses for Conigliaro’s behavior. I also thought that the author was too critical of others who did not approve of Conigliaro’s behavior, such as Red Sox manager Dick Williams. While Williams had a well-deserved reputation of being hard on his players, this is another case where the author seemed to be taking one side of the dispute and not clearly illustrating why Williams was acting the way he was.
Nonetheless, the overall quality of the book is fine and well worth the time to read, mainly because Cataneo does a very good job of covering the entire story of Conigliaro. In fact, I thought some of the best writing came later in the book after Conigliaro’s playing days were through. It was here when the previous thoughts I had about objectivity didn’t matter as Cataneo writes poignantly about Canigliaro’s last years.
Readers who were fans of Conigliaro and the Red Sox in the 1960’s will especially enjoy reading this book. If the reader wishes to learn more about this player whose career was cut short by an errant pitch, this is one to pick up.
I wish to thank Summer Game Books for providing a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.
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