Catching up with Gene Conley
CLERMONT, Florida -- He is the only person to win a world championship in both the NBA and Major League Baseball.
Gene Conley achieved such a feat winning the World Series with the Milwaukee Braves in 1957 and was a three-time World Champion with the Boston Celtics (1958-1961).
At the time I was very excited, said Conley. So many years have passed and I didnt harp on it too much. Then all of a sudden someone told me I was the only one to win championships in two different sports and the only one to have rings in different sports. I feel honored.
These days, Conley, 74, resides near Orlando, Florida in Clermont with his wife Kathryn. The two of them have been together 54 years and have two daughters, a son and seven grandchildren.
We're in a community where everyone is 55 and over, said Conley. We are having a great time and get along just fine. It is a nice place with a nice clubhouse and all kinds of stuff. We do come up (to Boston) in the summertime because it gets a little sticky down here in July and August.
Conley is officially retired, but prior to retiring Conley and his wife ran their own business for 35 years in Foxboro, Massachusetts called the Foxboro Paper Company.
I was the CEO and she was the President, said Conley. We had a couple of people help out, but it was what you called a low overhead business. We made it work real well for 35 years.
Also, he and his wife have recently put out a book entitled One of a Kind, which was written by his wife, Kathryn. The book tracks Conleys unique career and personal life chronicling his adventures, mishaps and triumphs that take place on the diamond, on the court and off.
She wrote this book and it took her eight to ten years, said Conley. I didnt even look at it until after she was through. I thought it was very interesting but said to her there are a few things in there that might get me in trouble, but thats all right.
It has about forty pictures in the book. It has pictures of Bill Russell, Bob Cousy, Hank Aaron all the guys I used to play with. Willie Mays gave me a blurb in there and a lot of the ballplayers around here said a couple of nice things. I appreciate it.
Conley is considered one of the greatest athletes in the history of sports. Conley played 11 seasons in the Major Leagues with three of them with the Boston Red Sox (1961-63). He also played one season with the Boston Braves (1952), five with the Milwaukee Braves (1954-58) and two with the Philadelphia Phillies (1959).
He played six seasons in the NBA with four of them with the Celtics (1953, 1959-61) and two more with the New York Knicks (1963-64).
Whats most impressive about Conley is how successful he was at both sports. Along with winning World Championships in both the NBA and MLB, he was also the winning pitcher in the 1954 MLB All Star game.
What was fun about it was I was playing with World Championship teams, said Conley. I was playing with the best in the world year round. That was pretty good knocking heads with those kinds of people.
Over forty years later, Conley has a distinction very few professional athletes have with Boston. He is an alumnus of three Boston sports teams the Celtics, Red Sox and Braves.
That was trivia they used to use, joked Conley. I have always loved Boston and its just wonderful. We stayed here for forty years and worked in this area afterwards. I made some good friends here and we really miss New England.