While the Boston Red Sox were enjoying their magical "Impossible Dream" season of 1967, they were faced with a huge road bump along the way.
During a game on August 18, 1967 where the Red Sox were hosting the California Angels, Tony Conigliaro of Boston stepped into the batter's box to face pitcher Jack Hamilton when he was struck by a pitch to his left cheekbone, which forced him to carried off the field on a stretcher.
As a result of the hit, Conigliaro suffered a linear fracture of the left cheekbone and a dislocated jaw with severe damage to his left retina.
1967 was a promising season for Tony C as he was an All-Star in addition to reaching the 100-home run career plateau at just 22. In his rookie season of 1964, Conigliaro batted .290 with 24 homers and 52 RBIs in 111 games.
His 1965 campaign was even better as Conigliaro became the youngest home run champion in American League history as he strung together 32 round-trippers that year. Everything was looking up for Tony C.
After being forced to sit on the sideline for the Red Sox' World Series in '67 and the entire 1968 season, Conigliaro was back in 1969, where he made a glorious return by hitting 20 HRs and 82 RBIs in 141 games. His efforts earned him Comeback Player of the Year honours.
After a stint with the California Angels in 1970, Conigliaro returned to the Red Sox in 1975 as a DH but that comeback was short-lived as Tony C was forced to retire since his eyesight was permanently damaged.
August 18, 1967 will live in Red Sox history, although not for pleasant reasons. The Red Sox aside, that same date should live in Major League history as the unfortunate moment was a huge reason why Major League Baseball added ear flaps to their helmets. Had Tony C had an ear flap on his helmet, it might have prolonged his already great career.