Gene Conley: One of a Kind

Gene Conley truly IS one of a kind – he is the only person in professional sports history to play and win world championships in both Major League Baseball (1957 Milwaukee Braves) and the National Basketball Association (1958/’59, ‘59/’60 and ‘60/’61 Boston Celtics). He played alongside some of the greats in both sports, like Hank Aaron and Bill Russell, during his career, and now spends his retired days following, in his own words, ‘all sports,’ and taking in All-Star games that he used to star in. Orlandomagic.com caught up with Conley at a recent game to talk about his new book, One of a Kind, and how he is one fan who believes in the Magic’s total team effort mantra this season.

Q: Tell us a little bit about yourself and about your new book?
A: “My wife wrote the book. She started about 10 years ago interviewing me and getting information, and the last three years – that’s how long it took her to write the story. It’s called One of a Kind because I was the only Major League ball player that won rings in both major sports (MLB and the NBA). I played on some championship teams with some of the Hall-of-Famers, like Bill Russell, and I broke in with Hank Aaron and Eddie Matthews and all the great players with the Braves. Between the two, I played back-and-forth for 10 years in the majors pitching and seven years in the NBA. My wife said that was quite an accomplishment – she said before we bought a farm, she wanted the story told because no one had ever accomplished that. It’s kind of a family book – we got married when we were both 19 years old. She didn’t know sports, but now she knows them pretty well. She puts the family thing in there where we went to spring training together and different things and how rough it was on us.”

Q: How much do you follow the Magic?
A: “I follow all sports. I love all of them, and I have followed the Magic since I have been down here. This is my fifth year down here. I don’t get to go to all the games, but I watch them all on tv.”

Q: We hear you get to go to the All-Star game this weekend – tell us a little bit about that.
A: “I am on the Legends Foundation with the NBA now. We have a meeting once a year at the All-Star game for about 45 minutes, and it allows me to fly out there first-class and stay out there for the whole thing and get to go to different cities each year.”

Q: What do you like about the Magic?
A: “I like them as a team – I like it when they work together. I don’t think you can win with just one player. I was lucky enough to play on a team that had seven guys who are now in the Hall of Fame. You can imagine how they moved the ball around – it was really a team.”

Melanie Curtsinger is an intern in the Magic's Communications department.