BOSTON -- Bobby Valentine was wearing the No. 25 at his introductory press conference Thursday, which conjured memories of Mike Lowell for most Red Sox fans. But those of a certain age recalled a more distant hero.
And that's who Valentine is honoring. He says he's wearing No. 25 for the late Tony Conigliaro, whose career was cut short by a 1967 beaning and who died in 1990 at the age of 45 after suffering a debilitating heart attack eight years earlier.
I had such admiration for him, Valentine said. We both got beaned. We talked about -- I never was able to really talk to someone about that, when that ball slows down right there pointing to a space in front of his left eye right before the impact. And its a lousy conversation but I was able to talk to him about it, and it was a bonding kind of thing."
So when he saw No. 25 was available . . .
"I called Mike Lowell. I should have called Billy Conigliaro -- and I couldnt get his number real quickly -- and the family, because I know that a lot of people wanted to retire it in his honor. And I would gladly put it up on that wall rather than on my back.
"But I think its a great number to wear."