Former Major League pitcher Tommy John, who saved his career and revolutionized his sport by undergoing a groundbreaking operation was the luncheon speaker at MTSU’s 2012 Baseball in “Literature and Culture Conference,” Friday, March 30.
John had amassed a 13-3 record for the Los Angeles Dodgers by July 1974 when a ligament in his pitching elbow ruptured. In a three-hour operation in September 1974, Dodgers team surgeon Dr. Frank Jobe replaced the ligament in John’s left elbow with one taken from a tendon in the pitcher’s right wrist. The surgery had been performed previously on wrists and hands, but never on an elbow.
In a 26-season career with six different franchises, John posted 288 wins, 164 of them post-surgery, placing him seventh all-time among Major League southpaws. However, he is best known for what is now called “Tommy John surgery,” a procedure that has extended literally hundreds of athletes’ careers.