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Gene Conley

1955 Topps

Donald Eugene “Gene” Conley (November 10, 1930 - July 4, 2017) was one of two athletes to win championships in two of the four major sports, winning the 1957 World Series with the Milwaukee Braves and then three NBA Championships with the Boston Celtics (1959-1961). As a three-sport letterman in high school (baseball, basketball, track), Conley won the Washington State high jump. And then, while attending Washington State University Gene scored runner-up finishes in basketball as he led his Cougars team to the Pacific Coast Championship game before falling to UCLA and then took the baseball squad to the championship match at the College World Series before losing to Texas 3-0. Despite his desire to complete his education, Gene signed with the Boston Braves in 1950 and battled for two years to crack the four-man starting rotation. He spent much of the next 2-3 seasons pitching in the minors where he won 20 games in 1953 with the Toledo Sox to win his second Minor League Player of the Year Award from The Sporting News as well as his second league Most Valuable Player Award. Around this time, and given his success as a basketball player in college, the Boston Celtics selected the 6’8” power forward/pitcher in the 1952 NBA Draft and he played one year. He then took five seasons pitching in the Majors with the newly relocated Milwaukee Braves. As a rookie in 1954, Gene went 14-9 with 113 strikeouts and a 2.96 ERA to earn his first of three trips to the All-Star Game and finished third in National League Rookie of the Year voting behind Wally Moon and Ernie Banks and ahead of teammate Hank Aaron.

Conley pitched six seasons with the Boston/Milwaukee Braves (1952, 1954-1958) and helped lead them to the franchise’s first World Series title in 1957 since winning last in 1914. However, a rotator cuff injury he suffered in 1955 limited his effectiveness and his tenure in Milwaukee wore on and he was eventually shipped to the Philadelphia Phillies in 1959. Luckily for Conley, he was able to return to the basketball court and helped the Boston Celtics, led by Bill Russell and Bob Cousy, win three consecutive NBA titles (1959-1961) even though his role was primarily coming off the bench. He pitched two seasons in Philadelphia (1959-1960) and the three more with the Boston Red Sox (1961-1963) until he eventually succumbed to nagging injuries. Gene Conley pitched in 276 Major League games in which he compiled a 91-96 record with 888 strikeouts, 69 complete games, 132 shutouts, ten saves an a 3.82 ERA. As and NBAer, he played power forward for the Celtics (1952-53, 1958-1961) and the New York Knicks (1962-1964), collecting 2,069 career points, 2,212 total rebounds and 201 assists in 351 career games. In 1962, as a member of the Red Sox, Conley and teammate Pumpsie Green missed the team bus back to Boston from New York and the two proceeded to go on a drinking binge from the next few days. After Green returned to Boston, Gene was found trying to board a plane to Jerusalem, for what purpose he was even unable to conger, but was turned away as he did not have a passport. This event became known as Conley’s “intentional walk.” According to his wife Kate’s biography of the tall right-hander, One of a Kind, Gene quit drinking in 1966 after at the behest of a fan’s dislike for him when he drank. Gene and Katie were instrumental in the NBA’s establishment of a player pension fund.

Condition Census

Pos Grade Thumbnail Pedigree and History
1 MINT 9
1 MINT 9
1 MINT 9
2 NM-MT+ 8.5
2 NM-MT+ 8.5
2 NM-MT+ 8.5
3 NM-MT 8 (67)

Prices By Grade

1955 TOPPS 81 GENE CONLEY

Grade Most Recent Price Average Price PSA Price Population POP Higher
GEM - MT 10
MINT 9 $2,997.67 $1,750.00 3
NM - MT 8 $394.00 $380.50 $115.00 67 6
NM 7 $69.11 $60.06 $50.00 128 86
EX - MT 6 $24.47 $24.47 $40.00 167 227
EX 5 $14.78 $14.78 $35.00 98 412
VG - EX 4 $13.00 $25.00 37 517
VG 3 $7.50 $20.00 17 559
GOOD 2 $10.00 3 576
FR 1.5 4 579
PR 1 $5.00 1 583
Auth 584

Auction Prices Realized

Date Price Grade Lot # Auction House Auction/Seller Type Cert
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