The 77th Greatest Royal of All-Time is Fran Healy
Fran, before he became Reggie's wingman
Fran Healy was a career backup catcher who is probably better known for being the voice of the Mets and for being portrayed as an ally to Reggie Jackson in the ESPN movie "The Bronx is Burning." He had two stints in Kansas City, neither of which was all too memorable.
Francis Xavier Healy signed with the Cleveland Indians out of high school and hit .168 in his first season in Dubuque, Iowa. He improved his average nearly a hundred points the next year, and by 1968 he was in AA Waterbury, hitting .238 in 74 games. Despite underwhelming numbers, he was taken 56th in the 1969 Expansion Draft by the Kansas City Royals.
After hitting .282 in AAA Omaha, Healy got a cup of coffee with the Royals at age 22. The Royals shipped him back to Omaha for the 1970 season where he spent the whole year and enjoyed a professional high average of .294 with five home runs and 36 RBI in 82 games. The Royals found him pretty expendable and that fall they dealt him to San Francisco for pitcher Bob Garibaldi.
Healy spent two years in the Bay Area, failing to collect even one hundred at bats in either season. The Royals decided they had made a huge error in letting Healy go and just before the season, they re-acquired him in exchange for reliever Greg Minton. Minton went on to enjoy a sixteen season career with 150 saves.
The Royals benched starting catcher Jerry May in early April, giving an opening for Healy. He responded by hitting .276 with six home runs and 34 RBI in 95 games, splitting time with Carl Taylor. The highlight of his season was catching a no-hitter by pitcher Steve Busby on April 27.
In 1974, the Royals decided to go with Healy full time and he hit .252 with nine home runs and 53 RBI in 139 games and even stole sixteen bases. He again caught a no-hitter by Busby on June 19, making him just one of fifty-eight catchers in history to catch multiple no-hitters.
In 1975, Healy split time with Buck Martinez and hit .255, but his on base percentage and slugging percentages each dropped quite a bit. By 1976 it was pretty clear the Royals were going to go with Martinez and veteran Bob Stinson as a backup, leaving Healy as the odd man out. The Royals dealt him to the New York Yankees for pitcher Larry Gura, who had fallen out of favor with Yankee manager Billy Martin.
Gura went on to a brilliant career in Kansas City, while Healy served as a light hitting backup to All-Star Thurman Munson. He was known best for serving as a lone ally for controversial slugger Reggie Jackson. In 1978, the Yankees released Healy, and he gave his reasons for retiring:
"One was the curve ball. The other was in my only time at at this year. I struck out. As I walked back to the dugout, I looked into the stands and my wife and kids were booing me."
After his playing career ended in 1978, he worked on radio broadcasts for the Yankees until 1981, before moving to the television booth until 1983. He was hired by the Mets and worked on their telecasts from 1984-2005.
A poor man's Tim McCarver