September 6 – Happy Birthday Fran Healy
There were two reasons why I did not like the 1976 early-season trade that made Fran Healy, Thurman Munson’s backup. First of all, that Yankee team already had the young Rick Dempsey as a reserve catcher and I liked him a lot. The second reason was because New York gave up their promising left-handed starter, Larry Gura. Gura impressed me when he went 5-1 as a starter during his first season in Pinstripes in 1974, with two of those victories being complete game shutouts. Though he had not been as good the following year, I thought he was still one of New York’s best pitchers and I hated to see him dealt.
In Healy, the Yankees got an OK receiver to spell their snarly team Captain once a week, a job that Dempsey could have handled much better. It wasn’t until 1977 that the intangible value of the Healy acquisition paid huge dividends for New York. That was the year the Yankees decided to put the flamboyant and pretty self-centered superstar, Reggie Jackson, in the same dugout as the mercurial, alcoholic Billy Martin. For some reason, Jackson decided to befriend Healy and actually take his advice from time-to-time. On more than one occasion, Healy was able to talk Reggie out of doing something that would further provoke Martin or hurt New York’s chance of winning. Fran was born on September 6, 1946, in Holyoke, MA.
As for Gura, he became the very good Major League starting pitcher I knew he would. Dempsey would go onto become an Oriole defensive mainstay behind the plate for many seasons. As for Healy, once the Yankees fired Martin in 1978, there was little left for the catcher/diplomat to do in the Yankee clubhouse so he switched careers and moved to the broadcasting booth. From there, Healy evolved into a sports celebrity interviewer. New York sports fans know him for his popular “Halls of Fame” interview show in which he interviews members of the Halls of Fame from each major sport.