In his youth, there was perhaps no better athlete in the Portland area than Sonny Conley. He played basketball and baseball at Cheverus High and helped the Stags win the Class A State Championship in 1948.
But there was more to Sonny Conley's life than just sports, a fact his friends found out later in life.
He lived with integrity and grace, was loyal and hardworking.
"I suspect sports taught Sonny a lot about living well and finishing well," said Wallace Camp, Jr., who knew him from his days working at Rowe Ford. "You see, Sonny's life was his testimony. A great sportsman and worker, yes, but more important a man I am proud to have called a friend."
Conley passed away on October 4, 2007. He was 77 and left a rich and powerful legacy.
From 1944-48, he was a four-year varsity letter-winner in baseball at Cheverus, playing shortstop, second base and pitcher. Over that same time, he won three varsity letters on the Stags' basketball team.
In basketball, he was not only an All-State guard in both 1947 and 1948, but All-New England as well. In 1947, he was the Boston Garden state foul shooting champion.
In baseball, he was an All-Telegram League selection in 1948 when he won the league batting title with a .400 batting average.
After serving in the Army in 1948-49, Conley continued his playing career. First he played basketball at Portland Junior College, where he was team captain. Then he played semi-pro baseball, where he was one of the most sought after athletes of that era.
"Sonny was a role model to younger, aspiring players," said Jack Dawson. "And, while it was unlikely that any of us could match his quickness and his ability to see the full picture of any game situation as he did, we could, and did, strive to imitate his drive, hustle, and value as a teammate."
As he got older he kept active with fast-pitch softball, tennis, and golf.
He played golf for 50 years as a member of the Poland Spring Golf Club getting two hole-in-ones, in 2000 and 2003. He played seven days a week.
Conley was also one of the most respected basketball officials in his day. He officiated for 25 years.
"As an athlete, there was none better during his period in basketball and baseball," said long-time friend Art Smith. "Through his years of officiating basketball in high school and college, the coaches and players respected him for they knew he had been there too."
He was also an avid skier, a fact not known to many other than his family and friends.
He is already a member of the Maine Baseball Hall of Fame and the Cheverus High Alumni Hall of Fame.
Maine Sports Hall of Fame
P.O. Box 2
Cumberland, ME 04021
Phone (207) 807-7666
The Maine Sports Hall of Fame was established in 1972 for the purpose of: 1) appointing and bestowing recognition awards and scholarships to outstanding Maine high school scholar-athletes; and, 2) to formally honor and memorialize Maine athletes and sports figures who have brought distinction and honor to the state of Maine.