Sunday, November 25, 2007

John Healy

"St. Louis, Mo., March 18 (1899)-

"John Healey, who ten years ago was a great base ball pitcher, has died in this city of consumption. In 1888-89 he was one of the American players who made the trip around the world and played in Europe, Asia, and Australia. He quit the diamond two years ago and became a policeman, but was obliged to give up his position last year on account of ill health. The funeral took place this morning from the family residence, 2418 Bacon street, to St. Teresa's Church. Joyce, Quinn, Whistler and a number of other ball players who are in the city attended the funeral...

"The deceased had been ill with consumption for about a year. After retiring from base ball in 1896, he secured a position with the St. Louis Police Department, covering himself with distinction the short time he served. Illness compelled him to resign from active duty last summer, and he was employed for a short while after that at office work at the Four Courts. Healy left a wife and two children. He saved considerable money during his playing career, and left his family comfortably fixed.

"Healey was one of the All-American team which opposed the champion Chicago team in the world's tour of 1888-89. He was a native of Cairo, Ill. and because of his birthplace was known among his fellow ball players as 'the Egyptian.' He was over 6 feet in height and of slender build. As a pitcher he was counted a good man. Of abstemious habits and always conscientious in his work, he was considered by team captains a thoroughly reliable pitcher...

"Healey attained his early prominence while pitching for Henry Lucas' St. Louis Maroons of the old Union league. His skill as a twirler at that time was famed throughout the land. Being particularly tall and slim of build, he was named 'Long John.' Healey was a member of the pitching corp of the Indianapolis Club in the late 80's and when Al Spalding made that famous 'round the world trip with the Chicago's and All-Americans, Healey was one of the party. Healey pitched for Baltimore through the season of 1891 and in the beginning of the season of 1892. In 1890 he pitched with such remarkable success for the Toledo Club that he was bought by Baltimore...'Long John' played in the Western League in 1895 and 1896, his last engagement having been with the Minneapolis Club. He then retired from baseball.

"Many base ball managers are indebted Healey for having 'tipped' them off on promising ball players, many stars of the present generation owing their present position to him. His death will be regretted all over the land: by the players, especially, who knew him as a comrade and by the public generally who had admired him as the professional artist he was."

From Sporting Life, March 25, 1899

John Healy was one of two reserve pitchers for the All-Americans on Spalding's world tour. Mark Lamster writes that "Spalding, with his acute sense of publicity, had instructed (John) Ward to start backup pitcher John Healy for the All-Americans (in the historic game played in the shadows of the pyramids at Giza)-Healy, a native of Cairo, Illinois, was known around the league as 'The Egyptian.'" Healy's nickname derived from his residence in "Little Egypt"-a local term used synonymously with "Southern Illinois."

Lamster goes on to write that "Chicago took advantage in the first inning, scoring twice before (Cap) Anson, perhaps daydreaming about the enigmatic ruins surrounding the field, was picked off base. The All-Americans countered in the second, taking a commanding lead with seven runs off Chicago pitcher John Tener. When Healy was hit by a pitch during the rally, (Chicago reporter Newton) MacMillan wryly noted that the Spinx was 'observed to weep' in sympathy. The hero of the day was Chicago catcher Tom Daly, who connected for the only home run of the contest in the fourth. Spalding, who served as umpire for the historic match, called the game after five innings, with the final score 10-6 in favor of the All-Americans. 'A triumph, in an artistic sense at least,' was MacMillan's take on the events, and that seemed to capture the general consensus."

Al Spink wrote that Healy was a "tall, graceful player" who was "popular with the public and his fellow ballplayers." He went on to say that Healy was no relation to "another pitcher, John Healy, a local St. Louis boy, who was at one time associated with Peoria and other minor league teams." According to Spink, John Healy was not just a policeman but served as "a member of the St. Louis detective force."

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