Card: 1972 Topps #481
“Billy Conigliaro is a ballplayer of great talent and potential.” - Dick Williams, Oakland Athletics manager, to the Boston Herald, November 27, 1972
William Michael "Billy" Conigliaro, born in Revere, MA, was a former Major League Baseball outfielder who played in the American League for the Boston Red Sox (1969–1971), Milwaukee Brewers (1972) and Oakland Athletics (1973). He is the younger brother of Tony Conigliaro; Billy and Tony were Red Sox teammates and two thirds of their outfield in 1969 and 1970.
Billy was born in Revere, Massachusetts, on August 15, 1947. His father, Sal, was employed at a tool and die shop and was eventually promoted to plant manager. Both he and his wife, Teresa, inspired their sons to pursue baseball. He attended Swampscott High School, where he graduated as a three-sport star. He threw a no-hitter against Winthrop High School in April 1964, several days after his brother Tony made his major league debut. He was subsequently drafted by the Boston Red Sox in the first round (fifth overall pick) of the inaugural MLB draft in 1965.
Billy played in the minor leagues from the 1965 to 1968 seasons. He made his Major League Baseball debut on April 11, 1969, at the age of 21, entering as a pinch runner and stealing a base in a 2–1 extra-innings win over the Cleveland Indians. He made his first start five days later, hitting two home runs in that game. Although he was sent back to the minors in May, he was called back up by the Red Sox during the September roster expansion. He finished his first year in the majors with a .288 batting average, four home runs, and seven runs batted in (RBIs) in 32 games played.
His best performance came during the 1970 season. He recorded career-highs in hits (108), runs scored (59), home runs (18), RBIs (58), and games played (114). He also had the fifth-most assists as a left fielder in the American League (AL) with seven. In order to fit Conigliaro into their lineup that year, the Red Sox moved future Hall of Famer Carl Yastrzemski to first base. Billy reportedly became "very emotional" when his brother Tony was traded to the California Angels at the end of the season. He subsequently batted .262 with 11 home runs and 33 RBIs in 1971, finishing eighth in the AL in doubles.
Conigliaro was part of a ten-player trade that sent him, George Scott, Jim Lonborg, Ken Brett, Joe Lahoud, and Don Pavletich from the Red Sox to the Milwaukee Brewers for Tommy Harper, Marty Pattin, Lew Krausse, and minor-league outfielder Pat Skrable on October 10, 1971.
Unhappy in Milwaukee, Conigliaro announced his retirement from baseball in the middle of the 1972 season. He applied for reinstatement in 1973, and the Brewers sold Conigliaro to the Oakland Athletics for an undisclosed amount of money. He appeared with the Athletics in that season's American League Championship Series and the World Series, where he was hitless in seven at bats. He subsequently retired.
In January 1982, his brother Tony suffered a heart attack as Billy was driving him to the airport in Boston. Tony was hospitalized, and in March he was moved to a rehab facility where he stayed for almost 15 months. Near the holidays at the end of 1983, he was moved to his home but he was on a respirator and required 24-hour nursing care.
For the six years that Tony lived, it was either with his parents or at Billy’s house. Tony’s longtime friend Bill Bates, who served for more than ten years as head trainer for the New England Patriots, said, “Billy was there every single day for him. Every single day. He gave up his life to take care of his brother."
After baseball, Billy had run a camera shop in Rockport and gone into the construction business, remodeling homes and then reselling them. Billy was an early pupil of Shotokan karate grandmaster Kazumi Tabata, who acknowledged Conigliaro in his book. He died on February 10, 2021, at his home in Beverly, Massachusetts. He was 73;
Billy C is part of the Boston Red Sox Player Tour – Go to the Next Stop
Billy is also part of the Athletics Player Tour – Go To the Next Stop
View all Billy’s baseball cards at TCDB
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