FanPost

HBP: The other side. Tony Conigliaro, Dickie Thon, Tony Olivo and Groove


  As TV coverage became more wide spread in the sixties; more women became involved as spectators than ever before. Small rumbles about the head hunters were being heard. The game continued on. The Vietnam war was on and the LBJ civil rights era was passing. Public criticism of violence in the media was heard for the first time in considerable volume . In this historical context; the war was being delivered to the public at the dinner hour. Kennedy had been assasinated to be followed a few short years later by RFK and Martin Luther King. Wide spread civil unrest lead to riots in cities as far apart Boston, Newark, Detroit, Saint Louis and LA. The 1968 gun control act was passed. Westerns and crime dramas were disappearing from TV. Violence was becoming less acceptable.

  Tony Olivo had his own remedy. Tony Olivo had a swing so violent he had trouble keeping the bat in his hands.  If you were in a 50 degree arc behind the plate you had a chance for a free bat. Throwing a bat at a pitcher had long been against the rules. When Tony O got decked; his bat would wind up in the opposing dugout. Often between the knees of the opposing manager!

  The continuous gratuitous replays of the beaning of Tony Conigliaro brought immediate change. Tony C was a riseing star for the Red Sox. A burly power hitting out fielder: Tony C was often compared with a right handed Mickey Mantle and gaining that kind of following. His near death from his beaning was every mother's fear brought to life. His eye socket was shattered; his eye was heavily damaged and his neurological damage was significant enough that the Doctors induced a coma to save his life.  He was never the same person after that. His attempt to comeback was painful to watch. His life was ultimately shortened.

  Batting helmets were instituted. Head hunting was discouraged and bench clearing brawls ironically had more bite and less bark. Little league, Pony league started to decline and legion ball started to disappear. My elders decried the emasculation of the game. The game settled down some.  The mound was lowered and the DH was introduced. Then it happened to Dickie Thon. His beaning was eerily similar except the visor of his helmet very slightly deflected the ball. Dickie had significant eye damage. His comeback was a long road. He was able to contribute at a lesser level for a significant career. 

  From the late sixties another player came of age to blossom in the seventies Don Baylor. Groove was a rock solid journeyman who was not quite of the elite. He wasn't ever the great star; he was one of the greatest teammates. He had the Midas touch of victory everywhere he went. Taking one for the team never had a better example. In truth he crowded the plate more than was acceptable to previous generations.

Eat. Drink. Be Merry. But the above FanPost does not necessarily reflect the attitudes, opinions, or views of Purple Row's staff (unless, of course, it's written by the staff [and even then, it still might not]).

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