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Thomas Edward John Jr. (born May 22, 1943) is a former left-handed pitcher in Major League Baseball whose 288 career victories rank as the seventh highest total among left-handers in major league history. He is also known for the revolutionary surgery, now named after him, which was performed on a damaged ligament in his pitching arm.[1]

Playing careerEdit

An outstanding basketball player at Gerstmeyer High School in Terre Haute, where he held the city single game scoring record, John was originally signed by the Cleveland Indians, making his major league debut in Template:By. John chose baseball when he realized he had the most talent in it and would not go on to play professional basketball. Of his 26-year major league career, he is best remembered for his seasons with the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 1970s. He made appearances in the All-Star Game in Template:By, Template:By, Template:By, and Template:By. He played in all three Yankees vs. Dodgers World Series of his era (1977, 1978 and 1981), but was on the losing end of all three, having switched over to the Yankees by the time the Dodgers took the Series in 1981. John never played on a major league championship team.

In the middle of the Template:By season, John was cruising along with a 13-3 record as the Dodgers were en route to their first National League pennant in eight years, before he permanently damaged the ulnar collateral ligament in his pitching arm, leading to a revolutionary surgical operation. This operation, now known as Tommy John surgery, replaced the ligament in the elbow of his pitching arm with a tendon from his right forearm. The surgery was performed by Dr. Frank Jobe on September 25, 1974, and although it seemed unlikely he would ever be able to pitch again, he spent the entire Template:By season in recovery. John would work with team mate and major league pitcher Mike Marshall who was said to know how to help pitchers recover from injuries and taught John a completely different way to pitch where he would not turn his leg and go straight to the plate which eliminated the chance of him hurting his knee and arm, and he returned to the Dodgers in Template:By. His 10-10 record that year was considered "miraculous" but John went on to pitch until Template:By, winning 164 games after his surgery—one fewer game than all-time great Sandy Koufax won in his entire career. After Phil Niekro's retirement, John spent Template:By and 1989 as the oldest player in the major leagues. In 1989, Tommy John matched Deacon McGuire’s record (since broken) for most seasons played in a Major League Baseball career with 26 seasons played.[2] Today, many pitchers have Tommy John surgery during their careers.

John decided it was time to retire in 1989, when Mark McGwire got two hits off him. McGwire's father was John's dentist. John said of his decision, "When your dentist's kid starts hitting you, it's time to retire!"[3]

Career statisticsEdit

W L PCT ERA G GS CG SHO SV IP H ER R HR BB SO WP HBP
288 231 .555 3.34 760 700 162 46 4 4710. 4783 1749 2017 302 1259 2245 187 98

Post-retirementEdit

John did commentary on select games during WPIX's final year of broadcasting Yankee baseball in 1998. He also guest-hosted the Mike and Mike ESPN Radio program on June 26, 2008. It is unknown whether he will do any further work for the network. On December 17, 2006, John was named manager of the Bridgeport Bluefish in the Atlantic League, an independent minor league in the Northeast. He is currently the spokesman for Tommy John's Go-Flex, a joint cream for older athletes. He is also currently doing a national radio tour to promote this product as well as talk about life as a minor league coach, his years in the Major Leagues and to educate younger pitchers on taking care of their arms.[4]

Tommy John resigned as manager of the Bridgeport Bluefish on July 8, 2009, to pursue a "non-baseball position" with Sportable Scoreboards.[5] In two-and-a-half years of managing, he compiled a 159-176 won-lost record with Bridgeport.

Hall of FameEdit

In 2009, John failed to get enough votes to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in his last year of eligibility with only 31.7% of the vote.[6] In 2010, John can be selected by the Veterans Committee.

Personal lifeEdit

Tommy married the former Sally Simmons on July 13, 1970. They are parents of four children—Tamara, Tommy III, Travis, and Taylor. In Template:By, when Travis was two years old, he fell 37 feet from a third-floor window in his family's New Jersey vacation house, bounced off the fender of a car, swallowed his tongue, then laid in a coma for 17 days. He later made a full recovery.[7] On March 9, 2010, Taylor John, age 28, died as the result of a seizure and heart failure because of an overdose of prescription drugs.[8] As a 10-year-old in 1992, Taylor’s singing and acting talents landed him a role in Les Misérables on Broadway. He made news by taking time off from the stage, however, to play baseball at Federal Little League in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. [9]

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