Tommy John is more than just a surgery! His long, extraordinary pitching career is often overshadowed by the surgery that has been named after him. John has a great case for being inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame for his on-field contributions. When you factor in the legacy of the surgery he had, we’re hoping he earns his spot in Cooperstown soon.
John pitched for six teams over his 26 years in the Majors. John won 288 games with a 3.34 ERA and made four All Star teams. His win total puts him in the Top 10 All Time among left-handed pitchers. He twice finished second in the Cy Young Award balloting during his career.
In 1974, John underwent ulnar collateral ligament reconstruction. He was the first pitcher to have the procedure, which would eventually be named after him, and the odds of him ever returning to the big leagues were slim. The procedure worked and John went on to pitch another 14 seasons. He won more games after having the procedure than he did prior and the surgery has become a key part of the baseball world. The surgery has saved and prolonged the career of numerous big name hurlers including Hall of Famers hitter Paul Molitor and John Smoltz.
Tommy John’s rookie card is a 1964 Topps Rookie Stars card that features John and Bob Chance. Lower grade raw copies of the card can be found for around $5. A PSA 9 version recently sold for $305 on eBay.