story & photos
by Christopher Annino
Tommy John, former MLB southpaw pitcher, spoke during the Connecticut Dugout Club’s monthly event at the Groton Inn and Suites on March 30th. Also presenting that night was Dr. William Morgan, former Boston Red Sox physician.
Both urged the importance of how exercise and rest is crucial to a baseball players training and the effects of neglect during ones career. “The most important thing you can do for yourself if you are a pitcher is prepare yourself. The more your on the mound the better you get, during your off days keep conditioning your body and when game day comes physically it should be the easiest day for you,” said Tommy. “Maintain a healthy diet and exercise routine. And most important love to want to play the game, the secrete to my success is I would do anything to play the game.”
Tommy also discussed his years with the Dodgers and how a damaged ulnar collateral ligament in his pitching arm nearly ended his career. Miraculously, an experimental operation replaced the ligament in his throwing arm with a tendon from his right forearm. Now called the “Tommy John Surgery,” it was named for Tommy, the first professional athlete to successfully undergo the operation.
The season after the surgery, he amazed fans by returning to the line-up and ending the season with a 3.09 ERA. Later in 1976, he was given the National League Comeback Player of the Year by Sporting News.
Tommy had an extended career due to the surgery, but most of his milestones can be attributed to his love for the game. Over his 26 year career, which began in 1963 with the Indians and finished with the Yankees in 1989, Tommy accomplished 288 career victories, 2,245 strike-outs, four all star appearances, a 3.34 ERA, and numerous awards for his efforts on the field.
Currently, Tommy is the manager of the Bridgeport Bluefish, a minor league ball club. He predicts growth in attendance for the minor league teams this season, “Not many people are going to want to pay a huge amount of money to go see a ball game, when they can see one in their local communities. The teams are just as talented and play with more passion. And in other ways they will be stimulating their local economy.”
The next Connecticut Dugout Club event will feature Rico Petrocelli. former Red Sox short stop, and Jim Longborg, 1967 Impossible Dream Team pitcher. Both will speak at the Groton Inn and Suites on April 27th. For more information visit www.ctdugoutclub.com.