The Pitcher & The Surgery

“You’re going to feel good. But no matter how much you rehab you do, you can’t speed up the healing process. I would rather see a guy come back in 14 months and pitch seven, eight or nine more years then come back in 10 months and get hurt again. You cannot mess with mother nature and father time. Nature will heal it if you give it time.”
Tommy John

Tommy John  pitched in the Major Leagues for 26 years and won 288 games, seventh all-time, among lefthanders.

John was a four-time All-Star and three-time 20 game winner.

He pitched on four pennant winning teams (1974, 1977 and 1978 Dodgers; 1981 Yankees) and on two occasions Tommy John was the runner-up for the Cy Young Award.

Tommy John originally signed with the Cleveland Indians and pitched in the Major Leagues with Cleveland, the Chicago White Sox, the Los Angeles  Dodgers, the New York Yankees, the California Angels, the Oakland Athletics and a second stint with the Yankees.

Tommy tore the ulnar collateral ligament in his left elbow and was the first to undergo surgery replacing the ligament with a tendon from elsewhere in the body.

The surgery now has been perfected and bears his name.

Tommy John surgery is so prevalent now that his accomplishments as a pitcher often are overlooked.

In addition, to the great numbers Tommy put up during his 26 year Major League career, he was an excellent “big game” pitcher.

John’s post-season record was 6-3 with a 2.65 E.R.A.

I had the pleasure of broadcasting the Triple-A World Series with Tommy in 2006 and 2007 and came to appreciate what a true student of the game he is and how much he loves baseball.

Tommy won 164 games after his surgery.

The surgery has been perfected and has resurrected many careers.

What is most unfortunate, is that the surgery is being performed on so many young people.

The arms of children and teenagers are abused because of the talent these young men possess and the end result is Tommy John surgery.

With all of Tommy John’s accomplishments, you can make a case for Tommy to be in Baseball’s Hall of Fame.

You also can make a case for Dr. Frank Jobe being the unsung hero here because he was the pioneer… the man who performed the surgery on Tommy John.

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