By Ian Rebhan ’12
A year ago, this post was supposed to run as a grand finale to our series. For his entire junior season, we followed Tucker. We watched as he navigated through the scouts, letters, expectations and pressures of being a professional prospect — which isn’t easy for a 21-year old.
From January 27th, 2011 until June 6th, 2011 we followed his path to being drafted, and this post was supposed to be the “storybook ending” to our series. After 1,530 picks in 2011, this post, though, needed to be put on hold. Tucker Healy wasn’t drafted and we ended the series with the lines, “Tucker Healy is going to be just fine . . . let’s take this ride again next year.”
A year later, we have come full circle and the storybook ending that we had slated for last June can finally be published. Tucker was just fine and on June 6th, 2012 he was drafted in the 23rd round — 709th overall — by the Oakland Athletics.
Our “Closing in on a Dream” series was stagnant for a year so we easily could have run the same banner that accompanied each post of this series. Below that, we could have reported the round, pick number and then slapped a big logo of the Major League team that made the selection and that would be it. However I believe — and I think that many others would agree — that Tucker deserves more. At the beginning of this project we had one main goal: to tell his story. We wanted the story and its conclusion to be more than a three-paragraph press release. It was important for us to have others know who he is as a person and what he experienced.
When reflecting on this series, as well as the experience of being one of Tucker’s good friends throughout this whole ride, one thing occurred to me: This series was — and is — much more than a testament or “hero worship” to his athletic ability. 1,238 players were drafted over the past few days and we are only talking about one. It’s not because he can throw 94mph, but instead it’s because of his character. Tucker Healy is “good people” and that is what this story has been — and continues to be — about.
Every post of this series revealed a little bit about who Tucker is, and everyone who has ever met him knows he is more than a pitcher. After I saw Tucker’s name pop up on my computer screen, and I got over the shock of “it actually happened,” I immediately thought, “he’s earned this.”
He’s earned it because of who he is and how he’s handled this entire ride. Throughout this series I reiterated how Tucker would brush off questions about the draft. He would shrug his shoulders and reply without fail, “We’ll see what happens.” He was always concerned about right now. We ended one post by saying “it will work out how it’s supposed to,” and it did. Looking back, this was Tucker’s mantra throughout the process. He could have easily been selfish and looked toward the draft and beyond, but he didn’t because that’s not who he is. His focus was on his family, friends and Ithaca College baseball. He knew the draft was inevitable — and he would worry about it then.
Nothing illustrates this attitude more than our final game in an Ithaca College uniform. We lost in the semifinals of the New York Regional — three wins away from the DIII College World Series. It was an unbelievable year with an unbelievable team. Tucker and I would talk throughout the season saying, “This is one of the best teams we’ve ever been a part of during our careers.” As the winning run came around to score, and we were eliminated from the tournament, the reality of “it’s over” settled in. I sat there in shock, slowly realizing that my playing career was finished. And then Tucker and I made eye contact; we didn’t need to say anything. We hugged with tears in our eyes and still didn’t need to say any words.
For me it was over and, in a way, it was over for him, too. He was so invested in his teammates and Ithaca College baseball that a thought about the draft couldn’t have been further away. He ended the season with an email to the entire team in which the final line read: “Great season fellas, thanks for everything . . . I’ll miss you all. One love.”
But it doesn’t stop there for Tucker. He’s had an impact on much more than just his teammates. Each and every person that has come to know Tucker is rooting for him. He has that effect on people. You root for people like him. Not so you can say, “I know him” when he eventually makes it, but because he went about this entire process the right way and will continue to do so. He never takes anything for granted.
After being selected, Tucker tweeted, “A dream come true. Anything can happen. Thanks for the support everyone.” He later tweeted, “And a great day comes to an end. Will never forget it so blessed”. This is why we did this entire series: to follow an exceptional person chasing his childhood dream. This project wouldn’t have been the same with a different subject. You root for Tucker because of his makeup — not his fastball.
As this series comes to a close — and Tucker has in fact “closed in on his dream” — his story is not really even close to being over. Wherever Tucker goes, he will make an impact on the people that he comes in contact with just as he has for all of us. We are all going to follow him because he has touched each of us in one way or another. He will have success — however one wants to define that term; I’m sure of that, and most importantly he will take each day as it comes. Of course there will always be uncertainty but that’s to be expected.
This is just another chapter, and like we have said over and over, Tucker Healy is going to be just fine.
Ian Rebhan recently graduated from Ithaca College (Sport Media) and is currently a graduate student at the Park School of Communications (Ithaca College). A native of Ludlow, VT, Rebhan was also a pitcher for the Bombers. Follow him on Twitter @Ian_Rebhan.