Tommy John, Los Angeles Dodgers
The pitcher who gave this surgery its name was pegged with a “one in 100 chance” of returning to baseball after he injured the ulnar collateral ligament in his left arm during the 1974 season. John was 13-3 for the Los Angeles Dodgers that year and had already won 124 games in his career before Dr. Frank Jobe, the Dodgers’ team physician, performed what was then an “experimental” procedure: He replaced the ligament in the elbow of John’s pitching arm with a tendon from his right forearm—and the Tommy John surgery was born.
John continued to pitch for over a decade following the surgery, winning 164 games while making three All-Star teams and finishing as the runner-up in Cy Young voting two times. The surgery, of course, became a revolutionary procedure for pitchers who injured their ulnar collateral ligaments, and has been performed thousands of times since then. And while a successful comeback isn’t always the result, John created the blueprint for a positive outcome.
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