Gene Conley, at 86, Red Sox pitcher, MLB, NBA champion
Gene Conley, a former World Series and NBA champion who played for both the Red Sox and Celtics during his two-sport career, died Tuesday. He was 86.
Mr. Conley, a Muskogee, Okla., native, also briefly played for the Boston Braves as he spent the 1950s and early 1960s going back and forth between baseball and basketball. He was a standout right-handed pitcher for the Red Sox, playing his last three MLB seasons with them from 1961 to 1963, and was a three-time champion with the Celtics from 1959 to 1961.
Mr. Conley was one of the few players in professional sports to win a championship in mulitiple leagues.
He was selected in the 1952 NBA Draft by the Celtics, and played briefly for them during the 1952-53 season before playing baseball from 1954 to 1958. He finished third in the National League Rookie of the Year voting in 1954 and was a three-time All-Star, spending his career with the Braves, Philadelphia Phillies and Red Sox. He helped the Braves, then in Milwaukee, win the World Series in 1957.
Mr. Conley was the Comeback Player of the Year in 1959, and he became the first athlete to win championships in two professional sports.
He won 29 games in 76 appearances (72 starts) from 1961-63 for the Red Sox. In 1962, he led the team in innings pitched (241.2) and tied for the lead in wins as he went 15-14 with a 3.95 ERA.
After his career, Mr. Conley and his wife lived in Foxboro and founded the Foxboro Paper Co. They had three children and seven grandchildren.