T.J.

“Just let kids be kids. You get a parent that sees a kid has ability and he will hire coaches. They’ll train year-round and then they’ll wonder why the kid’s arm goes at 13 years-old.”
Tommy John

Tommy John pitched in the Major Leagues for 26 years. Tommy was a four-time All-Star who pitched for six different Major League teams. John pitched in three World Series – two with the Dodgers (1977 & 1978) and one with the Yankees (1981). Even though Tommy John had a great deal of success in the Major Leagues – winning 288 games – when people hear “Tommy John” they think of the surgery that bears his name.

Dr. Frank Jobe, who performed reconstructive elbow surgery on Tommy John in 1974, passed away last week. Dr. Jobe told Tommy at the time of the surgery that the chances for a complete recovery were one in one-hundred. Not only did Tommy John recover completely, he went on to pitch for 14 more seasons in the Major Leagues.

Now some 40 years later, 85-92% of pitchers who undergo “Tommy John surgery” recover completely. Approximately one-third of all current Major League pitchers have undergone the surgery which entails a tendon from elsewhere in the body transplanted to the ulnar collateral ligament.

Let’s remember that not only did Tommy John win 288 games, he was 6-3 in post-season play with a 2.65 E.R.A. And let’s also remember his point about not abusing children’s arms. There is inherent stress on the arm when a baseball is thrown.

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