Wendel: Tommy John, the pitcher, the surgery

From SABR member Tim Wendel at The National Pastime Museum on August 30, 2015:

Halfway through the 1974 season, Tommy John was 13–3. On the Los Angeles Dodgers’ pitching staff that included Andy Messersmith, Don Sutton, and Mike Marshall, then the top closer in the game, John didn’t take a backseat to anybody. There was even talk of the southpaw enjoying a 30-win season. But that discussion ended on a pitch to Montreal Expos first baseman Hal Breeden.

“I threw him a sinker,” John told me decades later. “I’ll never forget that pitch or Hal Breeden as long as I live.”

As soon as John let the ball go, he felt “a crazy sensation” in his left elbow. For an instant, the joint felt like it was coming apart. Afterward John shook his arm, wanting to believe it was just a cramp.

“I remember thinking, ‘Gee whiz, that was really foul. Did I get out of sync or something with arm slot or delivery?’” he said.

When John tried to throw another pitch, the sharp pain returned, and he later said, “It wasn’t like anything else I’d had before.”

Read the full article here: http://www.thenationalpastimemuseum.com/article/tommy-john-pitcher-surgery

Originally published: September 3, 2015. Last Updated: September 3, 2015.