“It’s time to forget.” That’s the feeling of both Boston outfielder Tony Conigliaro and Jack Hamilton, husky, righthanded pitcher for the Indians. They faced each other for the first time April 12 since that game in August of 1967 when one of Hamilton’s fast balls crashed into the side of young Tony’s head. It left the Red Sox star with impaired vision, but he has made it back to the starting lineup this season.
Conigliaro was the first batter Hamilton faced when called up to put out a fire started by reliever Horacio Pina who had walked three consecutive batters. Indians manager Alvin Dark later stated he was just trying to end the inning, and wasn’t forcing any confrontation. “I thought about it over a week ago,” the manager replied when asked if he were conscious of the possibility of Hamilton facing Conigliaro. “There was the possibility then that Jack might start a game in this series. So I had Jack Sanford (the pitching coach) talk to him about it. Hamilton said it would make no difference to him.” Conigliaro struck out after four pitches. But, Hamilton did not avoid further damage as all three inherited base runners later scored as the Red Sox turned a tight contest into an 11-4 rout.
Both players claimed that there was nothing special involved emotionally in this meeting. “He just the same as any other pitcher to me,” declared Conigliaro in the Boston quarters.”No, there wasn’t any funny feeling.” Tony had to go a long way for several catches in right field. He said the running and bouncing around doesn’t bother the eye. “I can see fine and I don’t have to return for any more checkups,” he explained. The vision in the left eye was impaired, but it’s back to 20-20. That’s normal, but not quite as good as it had been before the accident. Hamilton used almost the same words as did Conigliaro in talking about the meeting. “He was just another hitter to me,” said Jack. “That’s all in the past.”