On December 15, 1960 the Red Sox announced that they had made a trade; Frank Sullivan was on his way to Philly and Gene Conley was heading to Fenway Park to ply his trade. On paper it looked like a wash, Sullivan was a 6’6″ 225 lb right-hander and Conley was a 6’8″ 225 lb right-hander. Both men were 30 years old, both had been all-stars and both appeared to have their best years behind them.
Although Sullivan had a better record at the time of the trade, Conley carried a resume which was a bit more impressive. He had finished third in the Rookie of the Year balloting in 1954, after going 14-9 with a 2.96 ERA with the Braves. He was the winning pitcher in the 1955 All Star game and he was a World Champion! In fact he was a three-time World Champion! He won one championship with the Braves.
Gene Conley was the fourth starter in the 1957 Milwaukee Braves rotation behind Warren Spahn, Lew Burdette and Bob Buhl. The 1957 Braves beat the Yankees in seven games to win the World Series!
And he won two championships with the Boston Celtics.
That’s him with the big smile behind Red Auerbach.
Conley was drafted by the Boston Celtics in 1952, The Celtics were just beginning to emerge as an NBA power as Conley joined Bob Cousy and Bill Sharman wearing the green and white.
He was part of the first three consecutive NBA championship in the Boston Celtics run of eight consecutive NBA crowns (1959-1966).
In 1952 he also made his major league pitching debut with the Boston Braves and after playing both in the major leagues and the NBA that season, he decided to forgo basketball and focus on pitching. He resumed his NBA career in the fall of 1958 as the Boston Celtics began a march that was and remains unprecedented in the history of American sports, eight consecutive World Championships!
Donald Eugene Conley holds a unique position in American sports history. He is the only man who has won a World Championship in both baseball and basketball. He has counted among his teammates hall of famers, Warren Spahn, Eddie Matthews, Hank Aaron, Ted Williams, Carl Yastrzemski, Bill Russell, Bob Cousy, Tommy Heinson and Sam Jones. He literally has “backed up” the greatest left-handed pitcher in baseball history (Warren Spahn) and the greatest winner in the history of sports (11 rings) Celtics center Bill Russell.
Conley chats with Red Sox pitching coach Sal Maglie before a start in April 1961.
He truly is one of a kind!
And so it was on this day in Fenway Park history, December 15, 1960.