Gene Conley, a former World Series and NBA champion, passed away yesterday at the age of 86.
A right-handed pitcher, Conley spent his final three seasons in Major League Baseball with the Red Sox (1961-63), making 76 appearances (72 starts) and winning 29 games. He went 15-14 with a 3.95 ERA in 1962, leading the club in innings pitched (241.2) and tying for the team lead in wins.
Prior to his career with the Red Sox, Conley was a standout pitcher for the Boston/Milwaukee Braves (1952, 1954-58) and Philadelphia Phillies (1959-60). He finished third in National League Rookie of the Year voting in 1954 and was named to the All-Star team three times (1954-55, 1959), and in 1957 he helped the Braves win the World Series. Plagued by a rotator cuff injury throughout his career, he was named Comeback Player of the Year by the Baseball Writers Association of America in 1959.
Selected by the Boston Celtics in the 1952 NBA Draft, Conley appeared in 39 games during the 1952-53 season but played only baseball from 1954-58. He returned to the Celtics for the 1958-59 season and won his first of three consecutive NBA championships, just months before helping lead the Braves to a World Series title. He appeared in 351 games over six NBA seasons, four with legendary head coach Red Auerbach's Celtics and his final two with the New York Knicks. He became the first athlete to play on championship teams in two professional sports.
Born on November 10, 1930 in Muskogee, OK, Conley and his wife, Katie, lived in Foxboro, MA and established the Foxboro Paper Company. They had three children and seven grandchildren.