More people know the name "Tommy John" for the pitching arm-repairing surgery that bears his name than for his 25-plus years on the mound. But there's a growing movement to change that.
In a recent interview with MLB insider Bob Nightengale, Hall of Fame pitcher Jim Kaat lamented that John isn't in the Hall of Fame. He pointed out that John might be the most famous pitcher there is due to the surgery bearing his name.
‘I think it’s a tragedy Tommy John is not in the Hall of Fame. Is there a pitcher more famous than Tommy John?’’ Kaat said.
On social media, there are a lot of people who find themselves in agreement with Kaat on this point. Many are asserting that the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown should commemorate those who had the biggest impact on the game - and the Tommy John surgery fits the bill in their assessment:
Tommy John was an All-Star pitcher with the Chicago White Sox in the late-1960s and then the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 1970s.
In 1975, John suffered permanent damage to the UCL in his pitching arm. At the time, it was a career-ending injury for the overwhelming majority of pitchers who sustained it.
But John opted to get a newly-devised surgery called ligament replacement surgery under Dr. Frank Jobe. He was the first player to successfully return to baseball after getting the surgery, and went on to enjoy three more All-Star seasons over the course of 14 seasons.
Since then, Tommy John surgery has saved the careers of countless successful baseball players.
While Tommy John's numbers alone might not warrant a spot in Cooperstown, it may be worth re-examining whether his contributions to the game beyond the mound do.