Sunday, October 11, 2020

Martin Healy Jr. (1977-2020)

Martin Healy Jr. (1977-2020)
I have been a member of since it's inception. Years ago I was a lot more active on the site, and it wasn't uncommon to get messages out of the blue from other members on the site about something related to George Gibson.

Such was the case on January 29, 2015, when 'MartyFromCanada' reached out to introduce himself. It didn't take long for us to realize we had a lot of the same baseball interests, especially Canadian baseball, and Canadian great George Gibson. We regularly traded messages, tipping each other off about auctions or interesting articles and just talking baseball in general.

This continued until May, when Marty emailed to ask how much research I had done on George Gibson, and whether or not I felt there was enough content for a book. Short answer: yes. Prior to having met Marty I had set out to research George Gibson with the intention of writing a book. After about a year, I put my research on hold as life and work got busy. But Marty's note reignited that research. I shared everything I had collected to that point, and before long the two of us were in full force expanding on that research to write a book.

Fast forward to March of 2020, and the book was released. Getting a physical copy in the mail was a cool experience. Admittedly, the timing probably could not have been worse, as it was literally the same week that Ontario went into shutdown due to the global pandemic. In the grand scheme of things, the book was not important, though, and we both knew that. Still, seeing years of work come to fruition was rewarding. And if we had to wait a few months before we could officially mark the release of the book so be it. We had already waited this long. What's a few more months, right?

Well, a few weeks ago, I got a call from Marty's Dad.

Marty passed away the night before in his sleep. He is gone.

So a few more months, it seems, is not nothing.

Gone is our chance to meet in person, and celebrate reaching our goal.

Gone is my chance to shake Marty's hand, to congratulate him on becoming a published author.

Gone is our chance to travel to London, and deliver copies of the book in person, to George's family.

Gone is my friend.

The past few weeks have been tough. Five years ago, Marty and I set out to write a book. We talked nearly daily, be it via text, email or over the phone. Along the way we got to know each other pretty well. The simple truth is that we became friends. I don't think either of us could have predicted that it just happened. It's hard not to like a guy like Marty. So friendly. So down to earth. So kind. And my god, did he know his Canadian baseball history. Kevin Glew recently described it as 'encyclopedic.' I can't think of a better word for it.

Of course, I was aware that he was living with congestive heart failure. To say that was in the back of our minds as we wrote the book would be a lie. Marty was very open about it. He would say to me, "I want to see this book published before I die."

And he did. He got his "author copies" the same day I got mine. We talked on the phone that day. He was excited, I was excited. It was a good day.

So while I will openly admit that I am saddened by his passing, I can't help but look fondly on the fact that his name is firmly planted on the cover of a book about Canadian baseball history, and that he got to see it happen. To be honest, mostly I just feel thankful about the whole thing.

Thankful that somebody else was so intrigued by an obscure baseball player like George Gibson.

Thankful that he found his way to net54baseball, and decided to message me that day in January, 2015.

Thankful that he was equipped with the same ambition to attempt writing a book, and the same ignorance about just how much work it would be.

Thankful that McFarland Publishing agreed to publish our work.

Thankful that we got the book done, and even more thankful about the friendship that formed with each chapter we wrote. Along the way, I got to meet some of Marty's family, and he met mine. My wife will confirm everything I'm saying about what a great person Marty was. And my son, the Yankees fan, will tell you how much he enjoyed trading barbs with Marty, a Blue Jays fan. What my son can't tell you is the number of times Marty mailed him an envelope out of the blue of Aaron Judge baseball cards, because we lost count.

I'm gonna miss talking Canadian baseball with him.

I'm gonna miss catching baseball games with him. 

I'm gonna miss meeting up with him at the annual CCBR baseball conference.

If I stay sad for a while yet about Marty's passing, I think I have good reason. But as you can see, I also have a lot to be thankful for. And I won't soon move on from that either.

Marty my friend, thank you, it has been an honour. Rest in pace.