Gene Conley, one of the few players in history to win championships in two major professional sports, has died. He was 86.
The Boston Red Sox, for whom Conley played for from 1961 to ’63, say he died Tuesday. Conley played 11 seasons from 1952 to 1963 for four different teams.
Conley helped pitch the Milwaukee Braves to a World Series championship in 1957 and won three NBA titles with the Boston Celtics. Otto Graham won championships in the NFL and the NBL, a precursor to the NBA.
Conley’s debut with the Boston Braves was April 17, 1952 versus the Brooklyn Dodgers, the Braves’ third game of the regular season. Conley started and faced a lineup that included four future members of the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Roy Campanella, Jackie Robinson, Pee Wee Reese and Duke Snyder. In four innings, Conley gave up four runs on 11 hits and two walks, taking the loss as the Dodgers prevailed 8-2. Conley lost his next three starts through early May, ending the season with an 0-4 record and a 7.82 ERA.
Conley would return to the majors in 1954 with the Milwaukee Braves, going 14-9 in 28 games with a 2.82 ERA, making the National League All-Star team and finishing third in Rookie of the Year voting behind Wally Moon and Ernie Banks, with Conley’s Braves teammate Hank Aaron finishing fourth.
He was 91-96 with a 3.82 ERA in his major league career. In the NBA, he had career averages of 5.9 points, 6.3 rebounds and 0.6 assists.