Coug legend Gene Conley dies at 86


In 1950, Gene Conley played on the Cougar baseball team that reached the College World Series.

JACOB MOORE, Former Evergreen sports editor

WSU alumnus Donald Eugene “Gene” Conley died at the age of 86 last week. The only athlete to ever win a championship for both a MLB and NBA team, Conley suffered from a failing heart.

Conley’s collegiate life started with a visit to WSU. In a 2004 article, he told the Boston Globe that other students kidnapped and convinced him to attend the university.

Wearing a Cougar uniform, Conley was part of the only baseball team to represent WSU in the College World Series. The Texas Longhorns would go on to oust the Cougars in their first championship appearance for their first championship title.

Conley also provided effort on the basketball court, as he was named to the All-American team twice in his college career.

Before he could finish college, Conley signed a MLB contract with the Boston Braves (now Atlanta Braves). In his MLB debut, Conley played against Jackie Robinson of the Brooklyn Dodgers, the man who famously broke the color barrier.

As a pitcher, Conley was an All-Star who played alongside teammate Hank Aaron. He also pitched during a time that produced hall of fame hitters like Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra, Joe DiMaggio and Ted Williams.

Drafted by the Boston Celtics in 1952, Conley focused his time on baseball more than basketball.

Conley and the Braves went on to beat the New York Yankees in the 1957 World Series. His MLB career would end a couple years later due to an injury.

After his baseball campaign ended in 1958, Conley returned to the Celtics and won three NBA titles.

After growing up in Richmond, Washington, Conley spent more than half his life living in the New England region. He was inducted into WSU’s hall of fame in 1979.