As far as two-sports athletes go, his résumé might be unmatched.
Gene Conley is the only man to win a World Series and an NBA title. He was the winning pitcher in a Major League All-Star Game. He led Washington State University to its only College World Series and helped the Cougars win conference titles in baseball and basketball.
Conley died on July 4 according to the Boston Red Sox. He was 86.
The lanky 6-foot-8 pitcher shined brightest on the baseball field. In 1950, the Cougars advanced to the national title game at the College World Series where they lost, 3-0, to Texas. He picked up a key win against Alabama in the second round.
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He was a three-time All-Star and picked up the win for the National League in 1955. In the 12th inning he was asked to face Detroit Hall of Famer Al Kaline, Washington’s Mickey Vernon and Cleveland’s Rosen. Conley struck out all of them. A few minutes later, St. Louis legend Stan Musial won the game, 6-5, with a home run.
In 11 seasons, Conley, played for the Braves in Boston and Milwaukee, Philadelphia and the Boston Red Sox. He was 91-96 for his career with a 3.82 ERA. He was the last living person to play for the Boston Braves and Red Sox.
The Boston Celtics picked Conley 90th in the 10th round of the 1952 draft. After focusing on baseball, Conley played three seasons for the Celtics and won the 1959, ’60 and ’61 NBA titles. He played for the New York Knicks from 1962-64. In five seasons, he averaged 5.9 points and 6.3 rebounds per game.
Conley was born in Oklahoma but his family soon moved to Richland where he earned all-state honors in basketball and baseball and state title in high jump while at Richland High.
At WSU, he led the Cougars to Pacific Coast Conference titles in basketball and baseball 1950. He is a member of the school’s Hall of Fame.