This posting will put forth the argument that both Tommy John and Dr. Frank Jobe be elected to Baseball’s Hall of Fame (HOF). Both men would have to be elected by the Veterans Committee of the HOF. This committee considers executives, umpires, coaches, long-retired players, and other people who pioneered monumental positive changes to the game of baseball. Tommy John would fit the category of a long-retired player and Dr. Jobe would be in the category of producing a monumental positive change to baseball.
The [AP] picture below show Tommy John on the left and Dr. Jobe on the right.
Here is my case for Tommy John’s admittance to the HOF. In my previous posting, I presented the pitching statistics for Tommy John during his 26 year career which ended in 1989. His 288 wins (the most by any pitcher not in the HOF) is 12 short of the magic number of 300, understood to be the automatic number of wins for a pitcher to get into the HOF. If he had not missed the entire 1975 season because of his surgery, there is no doubt he would have gotten those 12 extra wins. Let us not forget he was the first person to undergo Tommy John Surgery (TJS). In spite of Dr. Jobe warning him he never did this type of surgery before and the chances of it being successful was 1 in 100, he still said to Dr. Jobe, “Let’s do it.” Tommy spent the entire 1975 year rehabilitating his elbow and changed his pitching style to put less pressure on his elbow. After the surgery, starting in 1976 he recorded 164 wins which is one less than first-ballot Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax won in his entire career.
Now, here is my case for Dr. Jobe’s admission to the HOF. The 88 year-old developer of
TJS served in WWII where he delivered medical supplies to doctors. At the age of 20, a doctor suggested he go to medical school. After graduating medical school, he went on to become an orthopedic surgeon. His medical group linked up with the L.A. Dodgers and he served for 40 years as the Dodgers’ team physician. In the 60s his most famous patient was Sandy Koufax. As Dr. Jobe said, “If I’d thought of the surgery just a couple of years earlier, we’d be calling it Sandy Koufax Surgery.” Since he developed his revolutionary Tommy John Surgery in 1974, it has been estimated that more than 1,000 pitchers have had their careers extended by TJS. Recently, Adam Wainwright, Stephen Strasburg, and Anibal Sanchez have successfully continued their careers after TJS. Past pitchers John Smoltz and David Wells would have had their careers stopped if it wasn’t for TJS.
Such people as Henry Chadwick, the sportswriter in the 1800s who invented the box-score and Roger Bresnahan, a former catcher who developed the idea of the batting helmet and introduced the shin-guard, have been elected to the HOF by the Veterans Committee because of their pioneer contributions to baseball.
At the July 27, 2013 ceremony honoring Dr. Jobe, Jeff Idelson, President of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum said, “The ground-breaking work of Dr. Frank Jobe to conceptualize, develop, refine and make mainstream Tommy John Surgery, a complex elbow procedure that has furthered the careers of hundreds of ballplayers, is a testament to the positive role of medicine in our game’s growth.”
Yes, I truly believe both these men should have their tickets punched for the Hall Of Fame.