The Conigliaro family made its mark in baseball during the 1960s and 1970s. Although Tony Conigliaro is the member that most baseball fans remember, especially after his horrific beaning, he was not the only one to appear in the majors. Billy Conigliaro also had a five year career, ending with the Oakland A’s in 1973.
Sadly, Conigliaro passed away on Wednesday, without any cause of death having been provided. He was 73 years old.
Billy Conigliaro holds unique place in Red Sox history
Conigliaro was the first draft pick in Red Sox history, being selected with the fifth overall selection in the 1965 MLB Draft. He would debut in 1969, and appeared set to become a solid player in the organization, providing a bit of pop and a solid batting eye. His ability to play all three outfield positions made him equally valuable.
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However, that value could not save him with Boston. He was a vocal critic of the trade that sent his brother to the Angels following a 1970 campaign that saw Tony belt 36 homers. While Billy lasted for the 1971 season, he was sent to Milwaukee that offseason, part of the ten player trade that brought Tommy Harper to Boston.
While Conigliaro had a solid start to his time with the Brewers, he was unhappy in Milwaukee. Despite being just 24 years old, he abruptly retired during the 1972 campaign, deciding that he would rather hang up his cleats than play for the Brewers. Although he had a change of heart that offseason and applied to be reinstated, he still wanted out of Milwaukee.
That is where the Oakland A’s came in. They purchased the rights to Conigliaro for an undisclosed sum, hoping that he could be a part of their outfield puzzle going forward. Instead, multiple issues with his knees caused him to miss much of the season, as he appeared in just 48 games, producing a .200/.252/.255 batting line with two doubles and two triples in his 124 plate appearances. After undergoing knee surgery that offseason, the A’s released the former fifth overall draft pick.
But he was not quite done with baseball. After taking a few years off, his knee was finally better. Conigliaro attempted a comeback with the A’s in 1977, but declined an assignment to the minors, which would have presumably been to get him back into game shape. His playing career came to an end at that point.
Former Oakland A’s outfielder Billy Conigliaro passed away on Wednesday at 73 years of age. Our thoughts go out to his family and friends.