Gene Conley

Donald Eugene Conley (November 10, 1930 – July 4, 2017) was a Major League Baseball pitcher who played 11 seasons from 1952 to 1963 for four teams. Conley also played forward in the 1952–53 season and from 1958 to 1964 for two teams in the National Basketball Association. He is best known for being one of only two people (the other being Otto Graham–1946 NBL and AAFC Championship, plus three more AAFC and three NFL championships) to win championships in two of the four major American sports, one with the Milwaukee Braves in the 1957 World Series and three Boston Celtics championships from 1959–61.

Gene Conley
Gene Conley - Boston Red Sox - 1961
Conley in 1961
Born: November 10, 1930
Muskogee, Oklahoma
Died: July 4, 2017 (aged 86)
Foxborough, Massachusetts
Batted: Right Threw: Right
MLB debut
April 17, 1952, for the Boston Braves
Last MLB appearance
September 21, 1963, for the Boston Red Sox
MLB statistics
Win–loss record91–96
Earned run average3.82
Career highlights and awards

Early life

Conley was born in Muskogee, Oklahoma. While still young, his family moved to Richland, Washington. He attended Richland High School, where he played multiple sports.[1] He reached the all-state team in baseball and basketball and was the state champion in the high jump.[2]

Conley attended Washington State University, where (as he told The Boston Globe in 2004) students "kidnapped" him during a recruiting visit in an effort to convince him to matriculate.[3] In 1950 he played on the Cougar team that reached the College World Series.[2][4] In basketball, Conley was twice selected honorable mention to the All-America team, leading the team in scoring with 20 points per game.[2] He was a first-team All-PCC selection in 1950.

During the summer, Conley pitched semiprofessional baseball in Walla Walla, Washington, in which scouts from almost every Major League Baseball team came to recruit him.[2] He also was getting contract offers to play professional basketball from the Minneapolis Lakers and the Tri-Cities Blackhawks. At first he declined the offers, saying that his family didn't want him to sign any professional contracts until he finished school.[5] But the offers were getting bigger, and in August 1950 he signed a professional contract with the Boston Braves for a $3,000 bonus.[2]

Minor league career

Conley attended spring training in 1951 and was assigned to Hartford of the Eastern League by the request of former Braves star Tommy Holmes, who was managing the club.[6] After a month, Conley had a record of five wins and only one loss and was praised by observers in the league, saying that he had the best fastball since former pitcher Van Lingle Mungo played in the league in 1933.[7] On June 10, he threw a one-hitter against Schenectady Blue Jays, giving up the lone hit in the seventh inning.[8] Holmes was promoted to manager of the Braves on June 25, and was replaced by future Baseball Hall of Famer Travis Jackson.[9]

By August 1, Conley had a record of 16 wins with only three losses, leading the league.[10] He was unanimously selected to the Eastern League All-Star team on August 29.[11] He received the Eastern League MVP award that season after he became the first player in Hartford history to win twenty games in a single season.[12]

In the beginning of the 1952 season, Conley, along with fellow rookies George Crowe and Eddie Mathews, was invited to spring training with a chance of making the roster.[13] Around that time, the United States Army was drafting for the Korean War. Many major and minor league players were selected to fight in the war, depleting team rosters. Conley was deferred because of his height (6'8'), which was above the Army maximum height for a soldier.[14]

Major league career

Conley's debut with the Boston Braves was April 17, 1952 versus the Brooklyn Dodgers, the Braves' third game of the regular season. Conley started and faced a lineup that included four future members of the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Roy Campanella, Jackie Robinson, Pee Wee Reese and Duke Snider. In four innings, Conley gave up four runs on 11 hits and two walks, taking the loss as the Dodgers prevailed 8-2.[15] Conley lost his next three starts through early May, ending the season with an 0-4 record and a 7.82 ERA.[16]

Conley would return to the majors in 1954 with the Milwaukee Braves, going 14-9 in 28 games with a 2.82 ERA, making the National League All-Star team and finishing third in Rookie of the Year voting[16] behind Wally Moon and Ernie Banks, with Conley's Braves teammate Hank Aaron finishing fourth.[17]

The following season in 1955, Conley would be named to the All-Star game again, completing the season with an 11-7 record with a 4.16 ERA. Conley would pitch for the Braves through 1959, compiling a record of 42-43 including an 0-6 record in his final season in Milwaukee.[16]

In his lone postseason appearance in the 1957 World Series on Oct. 5 against the New York Yankees, Conley pitched an inning and two-thirds in relief of starter Bob Buhl, surrendering a two-run home run to Mickey Mantle as the Yankees went on to win the game 12-3; but with the Braves winning the series in seven games.[18]

In the spring of 1959 with the Celtics in a playoff push, Conley delayed reporting to spring training with the Milwaukee Braves, prompting the team to trade Conley on March 31 to the Phillies.[1] Conley would make his third and final All-Star game with the Phillies, going 12-7 with a 3.00 ERA,[16] with his season ending on August 19 after he was hit by a pitch while batting, breaking his hand.[1]

After new contract talks bogged down, on Dec. 15, 1960 the Phillies traded Conley to the Red Sox; when he debuted with the Red Sox on April 28 against the Washington Senators, Conley became the first athlete to play for three professional teams in the same city along with the Celtics and his short stint with the Boston Braves in 1952.[1] In three seasons with the Red Sox through 1963, Conley had a 29-32 record,[16] with the win total including the final start of his major league career on Sept. 21, 1963, going six innings against the Minnesota Twins in an 11-2 victory.[19]

In 11 seasons pitching for the Braves, Phillies and Red Sox, Conley posted a 91–96 record with 888 strikeouts and a 3.82 ERA in 1588.2 innings.

Conley was the winning pitcher in the 1955 All-Star Game and was selected for the 1954 and 1959 games.

Conley was the last living player to have played for both the Boston Red Sox and Boston Braves.

Professional basketball career

Gene Conley
Gene Conley 1960 (cropped)
Gene Conley with the 1960 Boston Celtics
Personal information
BornNovember 10, 1930
Muskogee, Oklahoma
DiedJuly 4, 2017 (aged 86)
Foxborough, Massachusetts
Listed height6 ft 8 in (2.03 m)
Listed weight225 lb (102 kg)
Career information
High schoolRichland (Richland, Washington)
CollegeWashington State (1949–1950)
NBA draft1952 / Round: 10 / Pick: 90th overall
Selected by the Boston Celtics
Playing career1952–1969
PositionCenter / Forward
Number17, 5
Career history
Boston Celtics
1961–1962Washington Tapers
19621964New York Knicks
1966–1968Hartford Capitols
Career highlights and awards
Career NBA statistics
Stats at

In the middle of his first season of professional baseball, Conley agreed to sign with the Wilkes-Barre Barons of the struggling American Basketball League (1925–55).[20]

On April 26, 1952, the Boston Celtics selected Conley with the 90th pick of the NBA draft.[21] Playing 39 games as a rookie in the 1952-53 NBA season, Conley averaged about 12 minutes a game for a Celtics team that went 45-26 in the regular season under Red Auerbach.[22] Conley did not play in the Celtics' two playoff series that season, with the team losing 3-1 in the Eastern Division finals to the New York Knicks.[23]

After a five-year hiatus to focus on baseball with the Milwaukee Braves, Conley returned to the Celtics for the 1958-59 season, again seeing limited usage at about 13 minutes a game for a team that swept the Minneapolis Lakers 4-0 in the NBA finals. Conley averaged 4.2 points and 5.4 rebounds during the regular season and 4.9 points and 6.8 boards in the playoffs. Conley would have his best year as a Celtic the following season, averaging nearly 19 minutes a game during the regular season to score 6.7 points while hauling in 8.3 rebounds on average over 71 games in the regular season. The Celtics repeated as NBA champions with a 4-3 finals win over the St. Louis Hawks, with Conley roughly duplicating his regular season averages during the playoffs.[22]

Conley would play on one more championship Celtics team during the 1960-61 season, culminating in a 4-1 defeat of the Hawks. Conley skipped the following NBA season while pitching for the Red Sox, then joined the New York Knicks where he averaged 9.0 points and 6.7 rebounds in 70 games during the 1962-63 season, before his minutes dropped precipitously the following year which was his last in the NBA.[22]

In six seasons in the NBA, Conley averaged 5.9 points and 6.3 rebounds per game in 16.5 minutes of playing time. Conley's No. 17 would subsequently be assigned to John Havlicek and then retired by the Celtics in recognition of Havlicek's career.[3]

"When I look back, I don't know how I did it, I really don't", Conley was quoted saying in 2008 by the Los Angeles Times, on playing two professional sports in tandem. "I think I was having so much fun that it kept me going. I can't remember a teammate I didn't enjoy."[24]

When Abe Saperstein's American Basketball League (1961–62) was born in 1961, Tuck Tape Company owner Paul Cohen purchased a franchise, gave it the Tapers name, and placed it in Washington, D.C.; the team played its games in the Washington Coliseum. Conley signed with the team. While with the Tapers, Conley often accompanied Cohen on sales calls for his company and gained industry experience.[25]

Conley is one of 13 athletes to have played in both the National Basketball Association and Major League Baseball. The thirteen are: Danny Ainge, Frank Baumholtz, Conley, Chuck Connors, Dave DeBusschere, Johnny Gee, Dick Groat, Steve Hamilton, Mark Hendrickson, Cotton Nash, Ron Reed, Dick Ricketts and Howie Schultz.[26]


After his retirement from professional sports, Conley started working for a duct tape company in Boston, Massachusetts.[27] After a year working there, the owner of the duct tape company died. Conley later founded his own paper company, Foxboro Paper Company, which he owned for 36 years until he retired from the business.

The Washington Sports Hall of Fame included Conley in its 1979 class of inductees.[28]

Until December 2009, Conley lived in Clermont, Florida, where he played golf and watched the Orlando Magic play in his free time. He moved to his vacation home in Waterville Valley, New Hampshire, in 2010.[27]

Conley died of congestive heart failure at his home in Foxborough, Massachusetts on July 4, 2017.

Personal life

Conley's mother was of Cherokee heritage and stood 6 ft (1.83 m) tall.[3]

In the spring of 1951, Conley married Kathryn Dizney whom he met the previous fall.[29] They had three children and seven grandchildren.[30] In 2004, his wife released a biography of Conley called One of a Kind that chronicled his life in both baseball and basketball and related how his family dealt with his being gone for most of the year.[31]

In the days following July 27, 1962, Conley made headlines after exiting a Red Sox team bus that was stuck in New York City traffic with teammate Pumpsie Green to find a restroom, with the bus driver subsequently driving away without the players on board. As Conley recollected the episode in a 2004 interview with the Boston Globe: "So we got off and went in this bar, and when we came back out, Pumpsie said, 'Hey, that bus is gone,' and I said, 'We are, too!'"[3] Conley and Green checked into a hotel, with Green rejoining the team the next day in Washington, D.C., but Conley taking a hiatus during which he attracted media attention in attempting to fly to Jerusalem. As told by Conley, Red Sox owner Tom Yawkey fined him $1,500 with the promise he would refund the money at the end of the season if Conley rededicated himself to the team, with Yawkey fulfilling the promise in September.[32]


  1. ^ a b c d Husman, John M. "SABR Baseball Biography Project: Gene Conley". Society for American Baseball Research. Retrieved January 12, 2017.
  2. ^ a b c d e Roger Dove (January 2, 1952). "Conley Tabbed a Major Sure-Shot". The Sporting News. p. 2.
  3. ^ a b c d Dan Shaughnessy (December 15, 2004). "Conley's stories fit to print". The Boston Globe.
  4. ^ "Washington State University Baseball Players Who Made It to the Major Leagues". Archived from the original on August 12, 2004. Retrieved December 16, 2012.
  5. ^ Donald Honig. Baseball between the Lines: Baseball in the Forties and Fifties as Told by the Men Who Played It. U of Nebraska Press. pp. 193–205. ISBN 0-8032-7268-5.
  6. ^ Bob Ajemian (April 18, 1951). "New Tempest Brews in Boston". The Sporting News. p. 14.
  7. ^ "Eastern League". The Sporting News. May 30, 1951. p. 30.
  8. ^ "Eastern League". The Sporting News. June 20, 1951. p. 34.
  9. ^ "Travis Jackson Replaced Holmes in Harford helm". The Sporting News. July 4, 1951. p. 33.
  10. ^ "Conley, 20, Tops E.L as Hill Winner". The Sporting News. July 4, 1951. p. 33.
  11. ^ "Scranton Places 4 Players on Eastern League All-Star Team". The Sporting News. August 29, 1951. p. 33.
  12. ^ "Conley gets MVP award". The Sporting News. September 26, 1951. p. 31.
  13. ^ Al Hirshberg (December 12, 1951). "Ailing Braves to Try Old Fashioned Cure, More Daylightball". The Sporting News. p. 20.
  14. ^ Steve O'Leary (November 21, 1951). "Braves Official High on Six-Eight Rookie". The Sporting News. p. 11.
  15. ^ "Apr 17, 1952, Dodgers at Braves Box Score and Play by Play". Retrieved January 12, 2017.
  16. ^ a b c d e "Gene Conley". Retrieved January 12, 2017.
  17. ^ "1954 Awards Voting". Retrieved January 12, 2017.
  18. ^ "Oct 5, 1957, Yankees at Braves Play by Play and Box Score". Retrieved January 12, 2017.
  19. ^ "Sep 21, 1963, Twins at Red Sox Play by Play and Box Score". Retrieved January 13, 2017.
  20. ^ "Eastern League". The Sporting News. August 29, 1951. p. 33.
  21. ^ Husman, John M. "SABR Baseball Biography Project: Gene Conley". Society for American Baseball Research. Retrieved January 12, 2017.
  22. ^ a b c "Gene Conley". Retrieved January 13, 2017.
  23. ^ "1952-53 Boston Celtics Roster and Stats". Retrieved January 13, 2017.
  24. ^ He put in some double time in the big leagues
  25. ^ Husman, John M. "SABR Baseball Biography Project: Gene Conley". Society for American Baseball Research. Retrieved January 18, 2016.
  26. ^
  27. ^ a b Jeff Twiss. "Timeout with Gene Conley". Retrieved January 5, 2008.
  28. ^ ""1979 Inductees". Washington State Sports Hall of Fame. Retrieved January 13, 2017.
  29. ^ "Gene Conley." Society for American Baseball Research. Retrieved January 12, 2017
  30. ^ Jon Goode (March 2, 2005). "Double play Catching up with Gene Conley". Retrieved January 5, 2008.
  31. ^ Melanie Curtsinger. "Gene Conley: One of a Kind". Orlando Magic. Retrieved January 5, 2008.
  32. ^ Golenbock, Peter (2015). Red Sox Nation: The Rich and Colorful History of the Boston Red Sox. Chicago, Ill.: Triumph Books LLC. pp. 255–262. ISBN 978-1-62937-050-7.

External links


1952 NBA draft

The 1952 NBA draft was the sixth annual draft of the National Basketball Association (NBA). The draft was held on April 26, 1952, before the 1952–53 season. In this draft, ten remaining NBA teams took turns selecting amateur U.S. college basketball players. In each round, the teams selected in reverse order of their win–loss record in the previous season, except for the defending champion, the Minneapolis Lakers, who was assigned the last pick of each round. The draft consisted of 17 rounds comprising 106 players selected.

1954 Major League Baseball All-Star Game

The 1954 Major League Baseball All-Star Game was the 21st playing of the midsummer classic between the all-stars of the American League (AL) and National League (NL), the two leagues comprising Major League Baseball. The game was held on July 13, 1954, at Cleveland Municipal Stadium in Cleveland, Ohio the home of the Cleveland Indians of the American League.

1954 Milwaukee Braves season

The 1954 Milwaukee Braves season was the second in Milwaukee and the 84th overall season of the franchise.

1955 Major League Baseball All-Star Game

The 1955 Major League Baseball All-Star Game was the 22nd playing of the midsummer classic between the all-stars of the American League (AL) and National League (NL), the two leagues comprising Major League Baseball. The game was held on July 12, 1955, at Milwaukee County Stadium, the home of the Milwaukee Braves of the National League.

1955 Milwaukee Braves season

The 1955 Milwaukee Braves season was the third in Milwaukee and the 85th overall season of the franchise.

1956 Milwaukee Braves season

The 1956 Milwaukee Braves season was the fourth in Milwaukee and the 86th overall season of the franchise. The Braves finished in second place in the National League, just one game behind the Brooklyn Dodgers in the league standings, and one game ahead of the Cincinnati Reds. All three teams posted wins on the final day of the season; the Braves had entered the final three games with a game advantage, but dropped the first two at St. Louis while the Dodgers swept the Pirates.

The Braves' led the major leagues in home attendance with 2,046,331; next closest was the New York Yankees of the American League at under 1.5 million. The runner-up in NL attendance was champion Brooklyn at under 1.22 million. The Braves averaged 30,093 for the 68 home dates.

1957 Milwaukee Braves season

The 1957 Milwaukee Braves season was the fifth in Milwaukee and the 87th overall season of the franchise. It was the year that the team won its first and only World Series championship while based in Milwaukee. The Braves won 95 games and lost 59 to win the National League pennant by eight games over the second-place St. Louis Cardinals.

The club went on to the 1957 World Series, where they faced the New York Yankees. Pitcher Lew Burdette was the star and Most Valuable Player, winning three games, including the crucial seventh game played in New York City.

1959 Philadelphia Phillies season

The 1959 Philadelphia Phillies season was the 77th season in the history of the franchise. During spring training, manager Eddie Sawyer told the press, "We're definitely not a last place club... I think the biggest thing we've accomplished is getting rid of the losing complex. That alone makes us not a last place club." The Phillies finished in last place in 1959, seven games behind seventh-place St. Louis and 23-games behind the pennant and World Series winning Dodgers.

1960 Philadelphia Phillies season

The 1960 Philadelphia Phillies season was the 78th in franchise history. The team finished in eighth place in the National League with a record of 59–95, 36 games behind the NL and World Series Champion Pittsburgh Pirates.

1961 Boston Red Sox season

The 1961 Boston Red Sox season was the 61st season in the franchise's Major League Baseball history. The Red Sox finished sixth in the American League (AL) with a record of 76 wins and 86 losses, 33 games behind the AL and World Series champion New York Yankees.

1961 NBA expansion draft

The 1961 NBA Expansion Draft was the inaugural expansion draft of the National Basketball Association (NBA). The draft was held on April 26, 1961, so that the newly founded Chicago Packers could acquire players for the upcoming 1961–62 season. The Packers were the second NBA team from Chicago, after the Chicago Stags, which folded in 1950. The Packers later underwent several name changes and relocations before moving to Washington, D.C.. They are currently known as the Washington Wizards. In an NBA expansion draft, new NBA teams are allowed to acquire players from the previously established teams in the league. Not all players on a given team are available during an expansion draft, since each team can protect a certain number of players from being selected.

The Packers appointed four-times All-Star and former Minneapolis Lakers head coach Jim Pollard as the franchise's first head coach. The Packers selected eight unprotected players, one from each of the other NBA teams. Their selections included former second overall pick Archie Dees from the Detroit Pistons. However, he and Barney Cable only played briefly for the Packers before he was traded to the St. Louis Hawks in exchange for former first overall pick Sihugo Green, one-time All-Star Woody Sauldsberry and Joe Graboski. Dave Budd, who was selected from the New York Knicks, was traded back to the Knicks without playing any games for the Packers. He was traded in exchange for former second overall pick Charlie Tyra and Bob McNeill. Six players from the expansion draft joined the Packers for their inaugural season, but only two played more than one season for the team. Bobby Leonard would later go on to become the team's head coach.

1962 Boston Red Sox season

The 1962 Boston Red Sox season was the 62nd season in the franchise's Major League Baseball history. The Red Sox finished eighth in the American League (AL) with a record of 76 wins and 84 losses, 19 games behind the AL pennant winner and eventual World Series champion New York Yankees.

1963 Boston Red Sox season

The 1963 Boston Red Sox season was the 63rd season in the franchise's Major League Baseball history. The Red Sox finished seventh in the American League (AL) with a record of 76 wins and 85 losses, 28 games behind the AL champion New York Yankees.

Frank Sullivan (baseball)

Franklin Leal Sullivan (January 23, 1930 – January 19, 2016), was an American professional baseball right-handed pitcher, who played in Major League Baseball (MLB) for the Boston Red Sox, Philadelphia Phillies, and Minnesota Twins over parts of eleven seasons, spanning 1953–1963. Sullivan was named to the American League (AL) All-Star team, in 1955 and 1956, and was elected to the Boston Red Sox Hall of Fame, in 2008.

Sullivan was one of the tallest pitchers of his time, standing 6 feet 6 inches (1.98 m) tall. After the 1960 season, the Red Sox traded him to the Phillies for another towering right-hander, 6 ft 8 in (2.03 m)-tall Gene Conley. Coincidentally, Conley had been the winning pitcher and Sullivan the loser of the 1955 All-Star Game. A walk-off home run by Stan Musial on the first pitch from Sullivan in the bottom of the 12th inning brought the midsummer classic to an abrupt end. Sullivan had entered the game with two men out in the eighth and had held the National League (NL) scoreless for 3​1⁄3 innings prior to Musial’s clout.

In 1955, Sullivan topped the AL with 260 innings pitched and tied with Whitey Ford for the most wins (18). For his career, he posted a 97–100 win–loss record, with a 3.60 earned run average (ERA), in 351 pitching appearances. He dropped 18 of his 21 National League decisions as a member of the Phillies, but went 94–82 in the American League. Overall, Sullivan permitted 1,702 hits and 559 bases on balls in 1,732 MLB innings pitched. He struck out 959.

In September 2008, Sullivan published a memoir entitled, Life Is More Than 9 Innings.

He was one of the subjects of the 1957 Norman Rockwell painting The Rookie.Sullivan died in Lihue, Hawaii, from pneumonia on January 19, 2016 at the age of 85.

Hartford Capitols

The Hartford Capitols were a professional basketball team in the Eastern Professional Basketball League (later re-named the Eastern Basketball Association) from 1966 through 1974. The Capitols played on weekends only and played at various venues around the city, including the University of Hartford, Hartford Public High School and Bloomfield High School.Notable players who played with the Capitols included Gene Conley, Art Heyman and K.C. Jones.

The Capitols went out of business in 1974, shortly after winning their first and only league championship. They were owned by Mark C. Yellin, a local attorney.

List of Major League Baseball All-Star Games

Ninety Major League Baseball All-Star Games have been played since the inaugural one in 1933. The American League (AL) leads the series with 45 victories, and a 373–370 run advantage; two games ended in ties. The National League (NL) has the longest winning streak of 11 games from 1972–1982; the AL held a 13-game unbeaten streak from 1997–2009 (including a tie in 2002). The AL previously dominated from 1933 to 1949, winning 12 of the first 16. The NL dominated from 1950 to 1987, winning 33 of 42 with 1 tie, including a stretch from 1963 to 1982 when they won 19 of 20. Since 1988 the AL has dominated, winning 24 of 31 with one tie. In 2018 the AL took their first lead in the series since 1963.

The "home team" has traditionally been the league in which the host franchise plays its games, however the AL was designated the home team for the 2016 All-Star Game, despite it being played in Petco Park, home of the National League's San Diego Padres. This decision was made following the announcement of Miami as host for the 2017 All-Star Game, which was the third consecutive year in which the game is hosted in an NL ballpark. The criteria for choosing the venue are subjective; for the most part, cities with new parks and cities who have not hosted the game in a long time—or ever—tend to get the nod. In the first two decades of the game there were two pairs of teams that shared ballparks, located in Philadelphia and St. Louis. This led to some shorter-than-usual gaps between the use of those venues: The Cardinals hosted the game in 1940, and the Browns in 1948. The Athletics hosted the game in 1943, and the Phillies in 1952.

A second game was played for four seasons, from 1959 through 1962. The All-Star Game Most Valuable Player (MVP) Award was introduced in 1962 and the first recipient was Maury Wills of the Los Angeles Dodgers. The 2008 game featured the longest All-Star Game by time: 4 hours 50 minutes, and tied for innings at 15 with the 1967 game.

Philadelphia Tapers

The Philadelphia Tapers were an American professional basketball team that played a partial 1962–1963 season in the American Basketball League (1961–62). It traces its history to the 1950s AAU New York Tapers.

Steve Hamilton

Steven Absher Hamilton (November 30, 1934 – December 2, 1997) was a Major League Baseball (MLB) and National Basketball Association (NBA) player.

Ted Kazanski

Theodore Stanley Kazanski (born January 25, 1934) is a former shortstop in Major League Baseball who played from 1953 through 1958 for the Philadelphia Phillies. Listed at 6 ft 1 in (1.85 m), 175 lb., he batted and threw right-handed.

A native of Hamtramck, Michigan, Kazanski was a classic slick fielder, slap-hitter, who used the entire field to his advantage. One of the most highly rated schoolboy ballplayers of his time, he was given a reported $100,000 bonus to sign with the Phillies in 1951.

He spent two and a half seasons in the Philadelphia Minor League system before joining the big club in the 1953 midseason, at nineteen years of age.

In his majors debut, Kazanski went 3-for-6 and drove in four runs from the top of the order, to lead the Phillies to a 13–2 victory over the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field. Kazanski became the first player since 1920 – the first season runs batted in was recorded as an official statistic – to drive in at least four runs as a shortstop in his major league debut, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. He finished the season with a .217 batting average in 95 games.

In 1954 Kazanski was relegated to backup and platoon infield duties, splitting time with Bobby Morgan and Granny Hamner. He spent most of 1955 at Triple-A. His most productive season came in 1956, when he posted career-highs in games (117), home runs (4), RBI (34) and hits (80), while hitting .211. In that season, he belted a three-run home run (on April 22 [1]) and an inside-the-park grand slam (on August 8), to provide two of the 19 victories of Phillies pitching ace Robin Roberts. He also started a triple play in the same game as his inside the park grand slam, a feat that would not be duplicated until Ángel Pagán did so on May 19, 2010From 1957 to 1958, he divided his playing time between Triple-A and the Phillies.

In a six-season majors career, Kazanski was a .217 hitter (288-for-1329) with 14 home runs and 116 in 417 games, including 118 runs, 49 doubles, nine triples and four stolen bases.

In 1959, Kazanski was sent by Philadelphia along with Stan Lopata to the Milwaukee Braves in the same transaction that brought Gene Conley, Harry Hanebrink and Joe Koppe to the Phillies. He played in the Braves minor league system until 1963, when was traded to Detroit in exchange for Ozzie Virgil.

Kazanski also saw action in the minors with the Kansas City Athletics, Cleveland Indians, Los Angeles Angels, Washington Senators and New York Yankees organizations, hitting .253 with 70 home runs and 244 RBI in 1183 games until he retired after the 1964 season. He was through by the age of thirty years.

Following his playing career, Kazanski coached in the Detroit Tigers organization and also worked as an assistant for the baseball team at the University of Detroit Mercy, which he attended.


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