By Elizabeth Walker
When C. Keefe “Con” Hurley graduated
from Holy Cross in 1929, he wore the engraved gold ring that
he was awarded as a member of the headline-grabbing 1928-1929
Eastern Intercollegiate Championship baseball team. Hurley,
an outstanding left fielder, gave equally strong performances
at bat, sending “innumerable horsehide pellets into
the turbulent Blackstone,” according to one account,
and helping his teammates compile a 72-17 win-loss record
during his four years on The Hill.
In the ensuing 70 years, Hurley never removed
his championship ring, which is adorned with a miniature
silver baseball. He wore it when he signed with the
New York Giants and through a season with the Toledo Mud Hens, when Casey Stengel
tried out his wings as a manager. Hurley soon put aside the “horsehide
sphere,” but the ring remained through law school and into an illustrious
law career in Boston. In addition to his years as a New Deal lawyer under President
Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Hurley, along with Bob Cousy ’50, was instrumental
in founding the NBA Players Association. He also served as baseball great Ted
Williams’ lawyer and talked the “Splendid Splinter” out of
his brief retirement. The ring stayed on Hurley’s finger when, many years
later, he “retired” to the Cape to continue his very active life.
“That ring is part of my memory,” recalled Con Hurley Jr. ’68. “I
can remember the stitches on the baseball in the center of it.”
In the seven decades since
his graduation from Holy Cross, Con Hurley Sr. and his championship
ring have been back
to campus countless times. He is
and active alumnus, long generous with his time and resources, as well as
a great supporter and fan of Holy Cross
Founder and a past president of the Varsity Club, he also
established, in 1970, a scholarship for deserving scholar/athletes.
In a bit of serendipity,
Jacob “Jake” Drew ’02,
a catcher from Dennis who now holds the Hurley Scholarship, wears number “29.” That
number, Hurley’s graduation year, also recalls the championship season
when he and his Holy Cross sluggers played an exhibition game against the Boston
Braves, with former Crusaders Fred Maguire ’22 and Joe Dugan ’20
on the Braves’ roster. It was one of the few games that saw the purple
flag lowered during that winning season.
Last fall, Hurley, 94, the College’s
oldest former varsity athlete, took off his championship
ring for the first time in 70 years and gave it to President
emeritus John Brooks, S.J. Father Brooks brought the ring
back to campus, where it is being prepared for display. The
handsome ring has aged well, burnished to a deep shade of
gold by its full participation in a long life well-lived.
Yet unlike the effect the years have on the bearers of rings,
time has removed its lines, rather than adding to them. The
engraved stitching on the tiny silver baseball has worn smooth.
“It is surprising to me that, though the years have worn the outside of
the ring smooth, you can still read the inside, with the initials, ‘CKH’ on
one side and ‘LF’ for left field on the other,” Hurley said.
Though Con Hurley and his championship ring have parted ways, both remain
important and cherished members of the Holy Cross family. In addition
to his ring and
other great generosity he has bestowed on the College, Hurley has given Holy
something else this year that is even more valuable to him—his grandson,
Casey Hurley ’03, a member of the Holy Cross crew team.