Gene Conley (– July 4, 2017)

 

Donald Eugene “Gene” Conley (November 10, 1930 – July 4, 2017) was a Major League Baseball pitcher who played 11 seasons from 1952 to 1963 for four different teams. Conley also played forward in the 1952–53 season and from 1958 to 1964 for two teams in the National Basketball Association. He is best known for being one of only two people (the other being Otto Graham–1946 NBL and AAFC Championship, plus three more AAFC and three NFL championships) 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.

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.

On April 26, 1952, the Boston Celtics selected Conley with the 90th pick of the NBA draft. Playing 39 games as a rookie in the 1952-53 NBA season, Conley averaged about 12 minutes a game for a Celtics team that went 45-26 in the regular season under Red Auerbach. Conley did not play in the Celtics’ two playoff series that season, with the team losing 3-1 in the Eastern Division finals to the New York Knicks.

After a five-year hiatus to focus on baseball with the Milwaukee Braves, Conley returned to the Celtics for the 1958-59 season, again seeing limited usage at about 13 minutes a game for a team that swept the Minneapolis Lakers 4-0 in the NBA finals. Conley averaged 4.2 points and 5.4 rebounds during the regular season and 4.9 points and 6.8 boards in the playoffs. Conley would have his best year as a Celtic the following season, averaging nearly 19 minutes a game during the regular season to score 6.7 points while hauling in 8.3 rebounds on average over 71 games in the regular season. The Celtics repeated as NBA champions with a 4-3 finals win over the St. Louis Hawks, with Conley roughly duplicating his regular season averages during the playoffs.

In six seasons in the NBA, Conley averaged 5.9 points and 6.3 rebounds per game in 16.5 minutes of playing time. Conley’s No. 17 would subsequently be assigned to John Havlicek and then retired by the Celtics in recognition of Havlicek’s career.

“When I look back, I don’t know how I did it, I really don’t”, Conley was quoted saying in 2008 by the Los Angeles Times, on playing two professional sports in tandem. “I think I was having so much fun that it kept me going. I can’t remember a teammate I didn’t enjoy.”

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Autograph Through Mail Request

MLB statistics Teams
Boston Braves (1952)
Milwaukee Braves (1954–1958)
Philadelphia Phillies (1959–1960)
Boston Red Sox (1961–1963)
Career highlights and awards
4× All-Star (1954, 1955, 1959, 1959²)
World Series champion (1957)

Career highlights and awards
3× NBA Champion (1959–1961)
Career NBA statistics
Points 2,069
Rebounds 2,212
Assists 201

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