(hey, if you think this picture is gross, you should see the one from Kenny Rogers’ unsuccessful heart transplant operation)
Sunday’s induction cermonies at the National Baseball Hall Of Fame and Museum will include no new living honorees for the first time since 1965, a circumstance some find terribly sad. There’s an exception, of sorts, however as Dr. Frank Jobe, the elbow surgeon who pioneered what’s commonly referred to as
Elton Tommy John Surgery was recognized by the Hall in a special ceremony earlier today. The New York Times’ Dave Anderson argues the first beneficiary of Jobe’s innovative work, hurler Tommy John, “should have (accomplished) enough to punch his ticket to election by either the Baseball Writers’ Association of America or the Hall’s veterans committee, but the significance of his namesake surgery has been ignored.”
After risking his career in what then was an experimental surgery and establishing a rehabilitation plan basically followed nearly four decades later, John certainly contributed to the teams he pitched for — he won 164 games after the surgery, 124 before it. But much more important was his contribution to the opportunity for so many other sore-armed pitchers to resume and prolong their careers.
Stephen Strasburg, the Washington Nationals right-hander, is the most celebrated active beneficiary of the surgery. John Smoltz, awaiting Hall of Fame consideration, had a 213-155 record and 154 saves in four seasons as the Atlanta Braves’ closer after the surgery. Mariano Rivera, the Yankees’ classic closer, flourished after enduring a “partial” form of the surgery in 1992 as a minor leaguer.
In an era when steroids have discredited the Hall of Fame credentials of so many, John deserves Hall of Fame credit for his contribution to what has proved so positive for so many others.