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Mariners' Healy inspired by mom's perseverance

@gregjohnsmlb
May 12, 2019

The connection seems obvious. Ryon Healy is a professional baseball player. His mom, Laurie (Romero) Healy, was a fastpitch softball standout at the University of South Florida. Surely the Mariners third baseman must have tales about learning the game and being inspired by his mother’s shared love of the diamond?

The connection seems obvious. Ryon Healy is a professional baseball player. His mom, Laurie (Romero) Healy, was a fastpitch softball standout at the University of South Florida. Surely the Mariners third baseman must have tales about learning the game and being inspired by his mother’s shared love of the diamond?

Healy ponders the question for a moment, but quickly goes another direction. It turns out, his mom indeed provided plenty of motivation. But in his case, it’s more about priorities and perseverance than pitch selection.

“This isn’t really a softball story,” Healy said. “But my favorite thing is she went and played at the University of South Florida for two years. She actually started the fastpitch program there. She played there two years, really left from Southern California to Florida with nothing.

“Her parents sent her on a flight; she had no money or friends out there. She was already seeing my dad and he flew out there a lot to see her. After the first two years, she came home. She quit softball, left school, left a full scholarship on the table, didn’t finish her degree, and came home to marry my dad and be a mother. And that’s what she did.”

The real MVPs: Players pay tribute to their moms

But not finishing what she started at South Florida gnawed at Laurie Healy. She valued education, and what happened next is what opened her son's eyes.

“I want to say 10-15 years later, she went back to school. Mother of three, wife, working part-time at the time. She went back and took night classes at Cal-State Northridge and finished her degree," Healy said. "For me, that was one of the most inspiring things I’ve ever seen. I remember going to her graduation as a teenager, if you can imagine that. That was one of the coolest things I’ve ever been a part of. She inspired me.”

Healy’s mom and dad pushed him to be not only a baseball player, but a student. Which is why he’s now a proud graduate of the University of Oregon with a degree in applied business and economics.

“Obviously pro baseball was always my dream,” he said. “But I wasn’t ready out of high school. I don’t think my parents were ever going to let me go straight out of high school. They really pushed me toward college. My mom was the one who had my academic advisor’s number and would call and schedule me more classes than I ever wanted to take.

“She was also the mother who -- when I was playing in the Cape Cod League for two summers -- made me take six units online. So I’d play baseball all day and then come home at night and have classes on line.

“My junior year [at Oregon], I remember calling her after I got my class list and I had about 21-22 units on there. I said, ‘Mom, do you not want me to have a social life? I’d really like to have some friends, have some fun.’ She said, ‘You’ll thank me in the long run.’

“She also inspired me to go back my first two offseasons after I was drafted and finish my degree at Oregon. So I’m a graduate. I take a lot of pride in that. That’s something I definitely hang my hat on away from the baseball field. And she was a big part of that, along with my father as well.”

Healy and many of the Mariners will swing pink bats and wear pink wristbands, along with caps with pink crowns during Sunday’s game against the Red Sox at Fenway Park as part of MLB’s support of Stand Up To Cancer and the Susan G. Komen breast cancer awareness program on Mother's Day.

Since the Mariners are on the road, they'll hold their own "Going to Bat Against Breast Cancer" program next Sunday on May 19, with breast cancer survivor Dianne Munroe of West Seattle chosen as the Mariners Honorary Bat Girl to throw out the first pitch prior to the 1:10 p.m. PT game against the Twins.

Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB.