Oakland Athletics outfielder Stephen Piscotty was named winner of the Tony Conigliaro Award on Friday after dealing the adversity of his mother’s death during the 2018 season.
Piscotty’s mother, Gretchen, was diagnosed with ALS in May 2017 and passed away the following May.
The Conigliaro Award is given to a “major leaguer who has overcome adversity through the attributes of spirit, determination, and courage that were trademarks of Tony C,” according to a press release from the Boston Red Sox.
Piscotty, 27, was selected by an 18-person committee consisting of media members, MLB executives, Red Sox officials, fan representatives and Conigliaro brothers Richie and Billy.
“I am deeply honored to receive the Tony Conigliaro Award,” Piscotty said in a statement. “To be included among this courageous group of past winners, and Tony himself, is a distinction I’ll always treasure. During my mother’s courageous battle with ALS, she fought hard to give my family lasting memories that we will treasure forever.
“She also worked tirelessly to bring more awareness to ALS so that we can hopefully one day find a cure. She is with me in accepting this award.”
Piscotty was a member of the St. Louis Cardinals when his mother was diagnosed with the illness. In December 2017, the Cardinals traded him to the Oakland Athletics, partly so he could be close to his family in the Bay Area suburb of Pleasanton.
Piscotty lived at home with his family — his parents and two younger brothers. He was with his mother when she passed away on May 6 and returned to the Athletics on May 15, homering over the Green Monster at Boston’s Fenway Park in his first at-bat since his mother’s death.
Piscotty finished the season with career bests of 27 homers and 88 RBIs while helping Oakland reach the postseason for the first time since 2014.
Tony Conigliaro died in 1990 at age 45, eight years after having a massive heart attack.
Conigliaro led the American League in homers with 32 in 1965 at the age of 20 and appeared to be on his way to stardom.
But on Aug. 18, 1967, Conigliaro was struck in the face by a pitch from Jack Hamilton of the California Angels. The pitch fractured his left cheekbone, dislocated his jaw and severely damaged the retina in his left eye.
Conigliaro missed the entire 1968 season and later hit a career-high 36 homers in 1970. He was traded to the Angels and retired in 1971 due to his vision issues. He attempted a comeback in 1975 with the Red Sox and again retired.
Piscotty will be formally presented the award on Jan. 17 in Boston.
—Field Level Media