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Mike Lowell: ‘Everybody is borrowing Tony Conigliaro’s number anyway’

12.02.11 at 7:23 am ET

Bobby Valentine is now the 13th member of the Red Sox to wear No. 25 since Tony Conigliaro last donned the digits in 1975. Still, as was evidenced in both the comments and actions from the new Sox manager and the last player to wear the number — Mike Lowell — it is understood who still has true ownership over the identification.

The first tip of the hat to Tony C came in the form of Valentine actually picking No. 25.

When Red Sox traveling secretary Jack McCormick presented the new skipper with a list of numbers, Valentine immediately flashed back to spring training in 1976.

Even though Valentine and Conigliaro were roommates for what the Red Sox manager identified as ‘€œfor a few days’€ before the former Sox slugger called it quits, the partnership was memorable. Part of the reason was because Valentine, like Conigliaro, had also been hit in the face with a pitch, with his incident coming three years after the Jack Hamilton‘€™s beaning of Tony C.

‘€œI might have been his last roommate, and I think I was,” Valentine said. “He was trying to make a little comeback when I was with the Padres. I had such admiration for him. We both got beaned. We talked about it. I never was really able to talk to someone about when that ball slows down right there right before the impact, and it’s a lousy conversation. But I was able to talk to him about it and it was a bonding kind of thing.

‘€œI should’ve called [Conigliaro’€™s brother] Billy,” he added “I couldn’t get his number real quickly and the family. I know that a lot of people want it to be retired in his honor, and I’d gladly put it up on that wall rather than on my back. I think it’s a great number to wear.”

Valentine also made sure to contact another notable No. 25 — Lowell.

‘€œI was running an errand, I didn’€™t take my phone and I saw I missed a call,’€ said the former Red Sox third baseman from his Florida home. ‘€œHe had left a message he said, ‘€˜I’€™m going to be in Boston, I know the number isn’€™t retired but I wanted to see if I have the official OK to use the number.’ I called him back and said he had the official OK and just said if I went to his sports bar maybe I could get some free chicken wings.

‘€œI thought it was a very professional thing to do. I don’€™t think he needed to. In my opinion I would say everybody is borrowing Tony Conigliaro’€™s number anyway. I felt honored to wear it, and I would hope he would feel the same way. I think it’€™s a number a lot of Red Sox fans through the years know what it’€™s about. Hopefully it works out.’€

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