Thomas Edward John Jr. is an American professional baseball pitcher who played in Major League Baseball for the Cleveland Indians, Chicago White Sox, Los Angeles Dodgers, New York Yankees, California Angels, and Oakland Athletics from 1963 to 1989. He was a four-time MLB All-Star.
John's 288 career victories rank as the seventh highest total among left-handers in major league history. He is also known for the surgery, now named after him, which was performed on a damaged ligament in his pitching arm. Over half of John's career wins came after his surgery.
John was originally signed by the Cleveland Indians, getting his major league start in 1963. Of his 26-year major league career, he is best remembered for his seasons with the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 1970s. He made appearances in the All-Star Game in 1968, 1978, 1979, and 1980. He played in all three Yankees vs. Dodgers World Series of his era (1977, 1978 and 1981), but was on the losing end of all three and never did win a championship.
In the middle of the 1974 season, John was cruising along with a 13-3 record as the Dodgers were en route to their first National League pennant in eight years, before he permanently damaged the ulnar collateral ligament in his pitching arm, leading to a revolutionary surgical operation. This operation, now known as Tommy John surgery, replaced the ligament in the elbow of his pitching arm with a tendon from his right forearm.
The surgery was performed by Dr. Frank Jobe on September 25, 1974, and although it seemed unlikely he would ever be able to pitch again, he spent the entire 1975 season in recovery and returned to the Dodgers in 1976. His 10-10 record that year was considered "miraculous" but John went on to pitch until 1989, winning 164 games after his surgery.
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