2014 Media

Local sports legend kicks off Founders Day

Gene Conley
Gene Conley

Published in The Foxboro Reporter: Thursday, June 5, 2014 9:27 AM EDT
Copyright 2014 Foxboro Reporter

Can you name the only athlete to win championships in two professional sports? No, it’s not Bo Jackson.

You can see him in person on Saturday when Founders Day, celebrating Foxboro sports and athletics, kicks off at 10 a.m. with its annual parade, this year featuring grand marshal Gene Conley (photo at right).

One the the “Legendary Locals of Foxborough,” in the new book by former Foxboro Reporter editor and now publisher, Jeff Peterson, Conley gets a page as a longtime resident and businessman:

“In the annals of sports trivia, Gene Conley’s legacy looms longer even than his lanky six-foot, eight-inch frame. Conley, who moved to Foxboro in 1960 with his wife, Katie, occupies a unique place in sports history as the only professional athlete to play for three teams from the same city: the Boston Braves, Boston Red Sox, and Boston Celtics.

He also is the sole athlete to win championships in two professional sports – a 1957 World Series win with the Milwaukee Braves and three titles with the Celtics – and was teammates with four hall-of-famers: Ted Williams, Hank Aaron, Bill Russell, and Bob Cousy. He was also the winning pitcher in the 1955 MLB All-Star Game.

Born in Muskogee, Oklahoma, he was raised in Washington and played baseball and basketball at Washington State University before signing a professional contract with the Boston Braves. Excused from service in the Korean War because his height exceeded the Army maximum, Conley was called up to the big leagues in 1952 and made the Celtics that same year after being recommended to manager Red Auerbach by guard Bill Sharman.

(Please turn to page 6)

Of course, Conley figured in one of the celebrated chapters in Boston sports lore: going AWOL with teammate Pumpsie Green (the Red Sox’s first black player) following a 13-3 rout at Yankee Stadium in July 1962. The escapade led to a $1,500 fine when the red-faced Conley eventually returned to the team several days later.

Just 33 years old when he hung up his spikes and sneakers, Conley initially worked as a salesman before launching the Foxboro Paper Co. in 1965 – a business he and Katie operated for the next 35 years.”

The parade leads to all sorts of activities during the day at the Booth Fields adjacent to the Igo School on South Street. Enjoy live music and food including strawberry shortcake and clam fritters, watch the Doll Carriage and Wagon Parade and meet up with people of your hometown you may have not seen in years.

Visit the reunion tent to see if you can spot a former classmate, or have a copy of the new book “Legendary Locals of Foxborough” signed by Peterson. He will be signing books from 9 to 10 a.m. at Memorial Hall; from noon to 2 p.m. at the FHS Alumni tent at Booth Playground; and from 2 to 3 at the Foxborough Historical Society booth, also at Booth Playground.

2014 parade Chairman Monica Fisler and Gene Conley
2014 parade Chairman Monica Fisler and Gene Conley

It was a great day to celebrate Founders Day
By Kassmin Williams
Published in the Foxboro Reporter: Thursday, June 19, 2014 9:03 AM EDT
Copyright 2014 Foxboro Reporter

As Foxboro Founders Day Committee Chairwoman Cindi Haddad-Drew prepared for the town’s annual event Saturday, she thought back to when she walked in the Founders Day parade 17 years ago on the same date, June 7.

The weather was quite different that year, and like some other years – including last year – presented its challenges. “Again, it was cold. I remember wearing jeans and now it’s just beautiful,” Haddad-Drew said.”

This year, committee members were thankful to have cooperative sunny weather for the daylong outdoor event. The temperature hit a high of 84, according to the Attleboro Water Department.

“Having it so that we can have the parade, the field activities and the fireworks all in the same day without a hitch is really a blessing,” Haddad-Drew said.

Residents and onlookers lined the entire parade route as Foxboro and other area police and fire and rescue vehicles led the assembly down Central Street at 10 a.m.

The parade included marshal and local legend, Gene Conley, the former two-sport star (Boston Red Sox and Boston Celtics), performances by the Taylor School Twirlers, the performance company from the Elite Dance Center, the Foxboro High School band and the BMR marching band.

In the midst of usual parade participants – including Boy and Girl Scout troops, Foxboro youth and local and officials such as state Rep. Jay Barrows, R-Mansfield – was a group who graduated from Foxboro High School in 1964, along with a float promoting Foxboro sports, the theme of this year’s event.

Children filled small shopping bags with candy as it was thrown from participants as they made their way to the Booth Field, where the parade ended.

At Booth Field, children pulled their parents and caregivers in various directions anxious to participate in the many activities set up.

There were bouncy houses and games such as four-way tug of war, balloon water blasts and frog flip as well as food, crafts, raffles and basketball and in-line hockey tournaments.

As attendees moved from booth to booth, the Bay State Stompers performed a live set for a portion of the event.

Between sets, the performance company for Elite Dance Center entertained onlookers with a few dance routines.

Foxboro residents new and longtime were impressed with the 26th annual event.

Lorraine Hocking has lived in Foxboro for 48 years and expressed pleasure in the amount of residents who attend the event.

“I think it’s wonderful to have the town celebrate something like this and every year they always have a great turn out,” Hocking said.

Joe Hulbig has lived in Foxboro for two years. Each year, he’s participated in the parade with his son William who attends King’s Wood Motessori School in Foxboro.

“I’m just really impressed how this community and surrounding communities rally around this day,” Hulbig said. “There’s people out in the streets starting at 9 a.m. and they’re here now and they’ll be here watching the fireworks.”

Planning for Foxboro Founders Day begins a year in advance and is undertaken by a group of about 10 volunteers who work with other community members to make it possible, Haddad-Drew said.

“The participation is amazing and I couldn’t do it without the help of the entire town,” Haddad-Drew said.

The event closed with raffle winner announcements and fireworks at 9 p.m.

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