In 1974, Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Tommy John was diagnosed with a torn ligament in his left elbow, which was on his pitching arm. 40 years ago, if a player had to undergo surgery their playing careers were finished. But then Mr. John went to go see Dr. Frank Jobe and the history of baseball and players changed forever.
Dr. Jobe is a renowned orthopedic surgeon who revolutionized the medical care and prolonged the careers of baseball pitchers and other players with his groundbreaking tendon transplant procedure now known as the “Tommy John” surgery.
In an interview with Tom Hoffarth of the Los Angeles Daily News, Dr. Jobe discussed how he and John decided to proceed with the surgery….
“Tommy happened to be in my office talking, and we already had told him about all the potential complications. I was ready to sign his papers for retirement. I wasn’t even sure I should have brought [the operation idea] up in our conversation. I had no idea if it would be successful. I really wasn’t sure. We got to a point where we kind of looked at each other and he said, ‘That makes sense, let’s do it.’ I think those were the three words that changed the course of baseball medicine for the rest of time. ‘Let’s do it.’”
Though this was an experimental surgery, which Jobe estimated at the time as having a 1% odds for a successful outcome, the two moved forward with the operation.
Jobe transplanted a tendon from John’s right forearm to his left elbow. After more than a year of rehabilitation, John and his bionic arm returned to the mound, where he pitched for 14 more seasons and racked up 164 of his 288 career victories.
Since then, the TJ surgery has been a frequent operation for baseball players. But OUR team, the Atlanta Braves, seem to have this injury occur more often than we’d like.
Though curable, the words “Tommy John surgery” is still a players nightmare.
So I named a few Braves players to have the surgery in the last couple years….can you spot the correct answer to the question below….