By 1964, Conley's strong right arm had given out. As he stared bleakly at the end of his sports career, he determineded to give it one more shot. Conley called Cleveland Indians executive Gabe Paul, who agreed to let Conley pitch for an Indians minor league club in order to see if there was anything left.
In this memorable passage from Donald Honig's Baseball Between the Lines, Conley recounts his final realization that he was through:
So I started a game. We were playing Greensboro, North Carolina. Those kids came up to the plate and started knocking line drives all over the place. I tried flooring a few of them but they weren't impressed; I didn't have enough on the ball to scare anybody. After four or five innings they had to take me out.
I called Gabe Paul the next day.
"Gabe," I said, "I tried but I can't do it."
"I thought that might be the case," he said. "I guess you just had to get it out of your system."
"Well," I said, "It's out."
When I walked away from that telephone I was really shocked. There was no more fooling myself. It was all over and I knew it. Not only that, I didn't have a job, nothing to go back to. The basketball was about over, too. So I was pretty depressed.
I wandered around for a while, a lost soul on the streets of this town in North Carolina. Then I walked into a church and sat down in the back, all by myself. There was a service going on. After the singing this Baptist minister started preaching. All of a sudden it hit me real hard and I caved in and started crying. I just sat there in that last row and cried and cried, trying to keep my head down so as not to upset anybody. Then I felt a hand on my shoulder and I looked up. An elderly Southern gentleman was standing there gazing down at me.
"What's the matter, son?" he asked. "Did you lose your mother?"
I shook my head, the tears still running. "No sir," I said. "I lost my fastball."