MAY 4, 1959
In the summer of 1958, the year that Bob Turley won Game 7 of the World Series for the New York Yankees, he went to Wall Street to ring the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange. The money guys wanted a piece of him—an autograph, a handshake, a glimpse. On the 40th anniversary of that event he was on the floor again, but no one remembered him as a Yankee. Instead of pitching lore, the financiers wanted to know about securities, mutual funds and life insurance. "One of my greatest joys was to have people come up and talk not about baseball but about my company," Turley says.
Before retiring in January, Turley served for 20 years as senior national sales director of Primerica Financial Services, an investment marketing company based in Duluth, Ga. He and his sales force of more than 15,000 people sold $9 billion a year in face amount of life insurance. Turley got his start in the business in 1957, and 20 years later he and seven others founded A. L. Williams & Associates. They sold short-term life insurance—instead of the more costly whole life coverage—and advised clients to invest the resulting savings in mutual funds. The partners were highly successful, and in '89 Williams & Associates was bought by Primerica, which has since become a part of Citigroup. "You had to do something after baseball, and I didn't want to dig ditches," says Turley, who will turn 71 on Sept. 19. "I wanted to use my brain."
Turley grew up in East St. Louis, Ill., and started his 12-year big league career with the St. Louis Browns in 1951. Three years later the team became the Baltimore Orioles. Turley won 14 games in '54 and was then traded to the Yankees. Bullet Bob won 82 games in eight years in New York, his best performance coming in '58 when his 21-7 record and 2.97 ERA earned him the Cy Young Award. The next year his salary was $35,000, the most he ever made in a season. While that number pales in comparison with today's minimum salary, Turley isn't jealous. "It helped me in the business world," he says of his baseball career. "Playing with the Yankees gave me the credibility to make the money Roger Clemens makes, and in business, credibility is your name."
Turley, who splits his time between homes in Marco Island, Fla., and Blue Ridge, Ga., is married and has four children, two stepchildren and 17 grandchildren. Looking back at a life that has included five major league teams, 101 pitching wins and millions in earnings, he says, "I'm the luckiest man ever. I got to play a child's game for a man's wages and then be a part of one of the most financially powerful companies in the world."