Gene Conley (1930 - 2017)

Gene Conley, one of only two players to win a championship in two major professional sports, has died. He was 86.

The Boston Red Sox announced that Conley died Tuesday, July 4, 2017. He pitched for the team from 1961 until 1963.

Conley pitched for the Milwaukee Braves and helped them win a World Series title in 1957. The versatile athlete also won three NBA titles playing for the Boston Celtics. Otto Graham is the only other athlete to win two championships in two major professional sports. Graham won a National Basketball League title with Rochester in 1946 and quarterbacked the Cleveland Browns to three NFL championships.

Conley pitched for four teams over 11 seasons in Major League Baseball. The three-time All-Star was the winning pitcher in the 1955 All-Star game. Conley was 14-9 in his rookie season in 1954 with the Braves. He finished third in voting for rookie of the year. He had a career record of 91-96.

“I could sling the ball good,” Conley told The New York Times in a 2012 interview. “I pitched nearly my whole career with just two pitches, and if you do that you usually don’t last too long.”


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Conley played college basketball at Washington State and was an honorable mention All-American. He was drafted by the Celtics in 1952. He played for the team during the 1952-53 season. He focused exclusively on baseball for the next five years. Conley returned to the Celtics for the 1958-59 season.

Conley won three straight NBA titles with Boston from 1959 until 1961. He did not play in the NBA during the 1961-62 season and then came back for two more seasons playing for the New York Knicks. He averaged six points and six rebounds a game during his NBA career.

Conley was born Nov. 10, 1930, in Muskogee, Oklahoma. He and his wife, Katie, who survives him, founded the Foxboro Paper Co. in Foxborough, Massachusetts.

In addition to his wife, he is survived by two daughters, Kelly Conley and Diane Kathryn Quick; a son, Gene Raymond; a sister, Billye Lynn Drew; seven grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.

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