Gene Conley

  • All star in 1954, 1955, and 1959
  • Gene Conley
    Pitcher
    Born: November 10, 1930 (1930-11-10) (age 81)
    Muskogee, Oklahoma
    Batted: Right Threw: Right 
    MLB debut
    April 17, [[ in baseball|]] for the Boston Braves
    Last MLB appearance
    September 21, [[ in baseball|]] for the Boston Red Sox
    Career statistics
    Win-Loss     91-96
    Earned run average     3.82
    Strikeouts     888
    Teams
    Career highlights and awards

    Donald Eugene (Gene) Conley (born November 10, 1930) is a former Major League Baseball pitcher who played eleven seasons from [[ in baseball|]] to [[ in baseball|]] for four different teams. Conley also played forward in the 1952-1953 season and from 1958 to 1964 for two teams in the National Basketball Association. He is best known for being the only person to win championships in two of the four major American sports, one with the Milwaukee Braves in the 1957 World Series and three Boston Celtics championships from 1959-61.

    Conley was the winning pitcher in the 1955 All-Star Game and was selected for the 1954 and 1959 games.

    In 11 seasons pitching for the Braves, Phillies and Red Sox, Conley posted a 91-96 with 888 strikeouts and a 3.82 ERA in 1588.2 innings.

    Contents


    Early life

    Conley was born in Muskogee, Oklahoma. While still young, his family moved to Richland, Washington. He attended Richland High School where he played multiple sports. He reached the all-state team in baseball, and basketball, and was the state champion in the high jump.[1] Conley attended Washington State University, where in 1950, he led Washington State to a second place national rank in college baseball.[1] In basketball, Conley was twice selected honorable mention to the All-America team, leading the team in scoring with 20 points per game.[1]

    During the summer, Conley pitched semi-professional baseball in Walla Walla, Washington, in which scouts from almost every Major League Baseball team came to recruit him.[1] He also was getting contract offers to play professional basketball from the Minneapolis Lakers and the Tri-Cities Blackhawks. At first he declined the offers, saying that his family doesn't want him to sign any professional contracts until he finished school.[2] But the offers were getting bigger, and in August of [[ in baseball|]] he signed a professional contract with the Boston Braves for a $3,000 bonus.[1]

    In 1949, he married. They are still married and have three children and seven grandchildren.[3]

    Minor league career

    Conley attended spring training in [[ in baseball|]] and was assigned to Hartford of the Eastern League by the request of former Braves star Tommy Holmes, who was managing the club.[4] After a month, Conley had a record of five wins and only one loss and was praised by observers in the league, saying that he had the best fastball since former pitcher Van Lingle Mungo played in the league in [[ in baseball|]].[5] On June 10, he threw a one-hitter against Schenectady Blue Jays, giving up the lone hit in the seventh inning.[6] Holmes was promoted to manager of the Braves on June 25, and was replaced by future Baseball Hall of Famer Travis Jackson.[7]

    By August 1, Conley had a record of 16 wins, with only three losses, leading the league.[8] He was unanimously selected to the Eastern League All-Star team on August 29 [9] He received the Eastern League MVP award that season, after he became the first player in Hartford history to win twenty games in a single season.[10]

    In the beginning of the [[ in baseball|]] season, Conley, along with fellow rookies George Crowe and Eddie Mathews, was invited to spring training, with a chance of making the roster.[11] Around that time, the United States Army was drafting for the Korean War. Many major and minor league players were selected to fight in the war, depleting team rosters. Conley was deferred because of his height (6'8'), which was above the Army maximum height for a soldier.[12]

    Professional basketball career

    In the middle of his first season of professional baseball, Conley agreed to sign with the Wilkes-Barre Barons of the struggling American Basketball League [13]

    Conley played in the National Basketball Association for six seasons - four seasons for the Boston Celtics and two for the New York Knickerbockers. Conley helped more in a back-up role as a strong rebounder averaging 6.3 rebounds per game in only 16.5 minutes of playing time.

    "When I look back, I don't know how I did it, I really don't," Conley said. "I think I was having so much fun that it kept me going. I can't remember a teammate I didn't enjoy."[14]

    Retirement

    After his retirement from professional sports, Conley started working for a duct tape company in Boston, Massachusetts.[15] After a year working there, the owner of the duct tape company died. Conley later founded his own paper company, Foxboro Paper Company, in which he owned for 36 years until he retired from the business.

    Conley lived in Clermont, Florida until December 2009, where he played golf and watched the Orlando Magic play in his free time. He moved to his vacation home in Waterville Valley, New Hampshire in 2010.[15] In 2004, his wife released a biography of him, called One of a Kind, which chronicled his life in both baseball and basketball and how his family dealt with him being gone for most of the year.[16]

    Footnotes

    1. a b c d e Roger Dove (January 2, 1952). . The Sporting News. p. 2. 
    2. Donald Honig. . U of Nebraska Press. pp. 193–205. . 
    3. Jon Goode (March 2, 2005). . Boston.com. http://www.boston.com/sports/basketball/celtics/articles/2005/03/02/double_play/. Retrieved 2008-01-05. 
    4. Bob Ajemian (April 18, 1951). . The Sporting News. p. 14. 
    5. . The Sporting News. May 30, 1951. p. 30. 
    6. . The Sporting News. June 20, 1951. p. 34. 
    7. . The Sporting News. July 4, 1951. p. 33. 
    8. . The Sporting News. July 4, 1951. p. 33. 
    9. . The Sporting News. August 29, 1951. p. 33. 
    10. . The Sporting News. September 26, 1951. p. 31. 
    11. Al Hirshberg (December 12, 1951). . The Sporting News. p. 20. 
    12. Steve O'Leary (November 21, 1951). . The Sporting News. p. 11. 
    13. . The Sporting News. August 29, 1951. p. 33. 
    14. He put in some double time in the big leagues
    15. a b Jeff Twiss. . NBA.com. http://www.nba.com/celtics/history/WhereAreTheyNowGeneConley.html. Retrieved 2008-01-04. 
    16. Melanie Curtsinger. . Orlando Magic. http://www.nba.com/magic/news/Gene_Conley_One_of_a_Kind-132528-800.html. Retrieved 2008-01-04.