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Tommy John

Tommy John

Position(s):
P
Born:
May 22, 1943
Bats:
Right
Throws:
Left
Height:
6' 3"
Weight:
180 lbs
Major League Debut:
9-06-1963 with CLE
Allstar Selections:
1976 HA, 1981 LG

Intro

Tommy John's arm injury and subsequent comeback from a revolutionary surgery which took parts of his right arm and placed them in his left, altered the history of pitching rehabilitation. He was a left-handed control-artist who suffered as the ace of mediocre Chicago White Sox teams for seven seasons before joining the Los Angeles Dodgers. He was on the wrong side of three Dodgers/Yankees World Series tilts, losing with LA in 1977 and 1978, and with the Yanks in 1981. Despite missing a year-and-a-half to his arm troubles in mid-career, John won 288 games, his last at age 46.

Unform Number

#37 (1963-1964), #25 (1965-1981, 1982 Yankees, 1983-1989), #35 (1982 Angels)

Quotes From

"If that's any indication of the aging process, I can't wait until I'm 40." — Tommy John, after he pitched a five-hit shutout on his 39th birthday in 1982

Replaced By

Chuck Cary

Best Season

John surrendered just nine home runs in more than 276 innings for the Yankees, winning 21 games. He finished second to Baltimore's Mike Flanagan in American League Cy Young Award voting, despite posting a lower ERA of 2.96. John completed 17 games and threw three shutouts in his first season with New York. John threw 20 quality starts in 36 games started, and was 9-1 with a 2.19 ERA in April and May. The left-hander proved to be one of George Steinbrenner's better free agent signings.

Factoid 1

Tommy John was one of the best control pitchers of his era, but on June 15, 1968, he plunked four Detroit batters, tying an American League record.

Transition

June 12, 1961: Signed by the Cleveland Indians as an amateur free agent; January 20, 1965: Traded as part of a 3-team trade by the Cleveland Indians with Tommie Agee and Johnny Romano to the Chicago White Sox. The Kansas City Athletics sent Rocky Colavito to the Cleveland Indians. The Chicago White Sox sent a player to be named later, Jim Landis, and Mike Hershberger to the Kansas City Athletics. The Chicago White Sox sent Cam Carreon to the Cleveland Indians. The Chicago White Sox sent Fred Talbot (February 10, 1965) to the Kansas City Athletics to complete the trade; December 2, 1971: Traded by the Chicago White Sox with Steve Huntz to the Los Angeles Dodgers for Dick Allen; November 2, 1978: Granted Free Agency; November 21, 1978: Signed as a Free Agent with the New York Yankees; August 31, 1982: Traded by the New York Yankees to the California Angels for a player to be named later. The California Angels sent Dennis Rasmussen (November 24, 1982) to the New York Yankees to complete the trade; June 19, 1985: Released by the California Angels; July 12, 1985: Signed as a Free Agent with the Oakland Athletics; November 12, 1985: Granted Free Agency; May 2, 1986: Signed as a Free Agent with the New York Yankees; November 12, 1986: Granted Free Agency; January 8, 1987: Signed as a Free Agent with the New York Yankees; November 9, 1987: Granted Free Agency; December 21, 1987: Signed as a Free Agent with the New York Yankees; November 10, 1988: Released by the New York Yankees; February 13, 1989: Signed as a Free Agent with the New York Yankees; May 30, 1989: Released by the New York Yankees.

Strengths

John kept the ball low, and consequently he surrendered few home runs. He gave up roughly 35% fewer homers per nine innings than the average major league pitcher of his era.

Weaknesses

Because he kept the ball low, he had a tendency to bounce pitches in the dirt. He led the league in wild pitches once, and was among league leaders several other times.

Milestones

John stuck around until he was 46 years old, trying to get to the magical 300-win plateau, but he fell 12 victories short. By the second-half of 1988, he was a poor pitcher, posting a 5.69 ERA after July. In 1989, the lefty went 2-7 in 10 starts before he was released on May 30, after a fifth straight outing where he allowed five runs or more.

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