His name is synonymous with the then-pioneering reconstructive elbow surgery he endured over 35 years ago. The procedure (known as ulnar collateral ligament construction) is commonplace in baseball today, but that wasn't the case when Tommy John went under the scalpel in the mid-70s.
In the modern era, the term 'Tommy John surgery' is a ubiquitous part of the game's lexicon. And while it's fitting that the procedure should bear his name, it's unfortunate that it too often overshadows his career on the diamond.
For the record, Tommy John pitched for an amazing 26 seasons in the big leagues - three of those yielded 20 wins or more. He left the game with 288 wins in total. That's more than any other pitcher currently eligible but not inducted in baseball's Hall of Fame. The fact that his bust is not in Cooperstown is puzzling. But that's a column for another day. Suffice it to say, Tommy John knew how to pitch and win.
Sadly, tragedy struck the baseball legend and his family last spring when his 28-year-old son, Taylor John, passed away due to an overdose of prescription drugs. Just a few months later, Tommy helped put together a team to participate in a walking event to benefit the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention in Taylor's hometown of Chicago. Team Taylor, as it was dubbed, was the top fundraising group at the 2010 Chicago walk.
This year, Tommy and Team Taylor are doing their part again for this very worthy cause. Their goal is to top the $20,000 mark at the September 24th event. To learn more about their effort and/or contribute, please check out their fundraising site by clicking here.