is the only All-Star pitcher in major league history whose name is
more closely associated with a surgical procedure than anything he
ever accomplished on the field. And now that name has become
associated with Perfect Game.
John, a terrific left-hander out Terre Haute, Ind., who won 288 games
over a 26-year big league career, will be actively involved in the
festivities surrounding the Perfect Game All-American Classic
presented by Rawlings, slated for Sunday, Aug. 14, at PETCO Park in
all-star game is the highlight of five days of activities in San
Diego, starting with the PG National Games at the University of San
Diego Aug. 11-12 and followed by two days of workouts, scrimmages and
other special events leading up to Sunday’s game.
Classic showcases 46 of the nation’s top prospects in the high
school graduating class of 2012.
anxious to see these young men of high school age and see how well
they play,” John said in a recent telephone conversation with
Perfect Game. “As a baseball person, I’m huge on high school
players entering the draft and getting their feet wet right away
because that gives them a chance to play baseball seven days a week.”
got involved with the Perfect Game All-American Classic presented by
Rawlings after meeting PG Vice President of Development Brad Clement
at the PG Collegiate Baseball League All-Star Game in Elmira, N.Y.,
last month. John threw out the first pitch at the game and
participated in other activities surrounding the event.
meeting with Clement ultimately led to John being invited to the
in San Diego, John will watch the prospects workout and scrimmage,
make a visit to the Rady Children’s Hospital – which receives
proceeds from the Classic – and will meet and talk with the troops
at the Miramar Naval Air Station.
will be the presenter of the coveted Perfect Game Nick Adenhart
Award, whose recipient “best exemplifies the overall spirit and
character of a true (Perfect Game) All-American,” according to the
inscription on the trophy. Adenhart pitched in the first Aflac
All-American Classic in 2003 and was tragically killed in an auto
accident on April 9, 2009, hours after making his first start of the
2009 season with the Los Angeles Angels.
will also sit down and visit with the players and their parents,
answering questions and providing his unique insights.
was co-valedictorian of my high school class (at Gerstmeyer High
School in Terre Haute) and I opted to forgo college to go play pro
ball,” John said. “I’m going to talk to the players and tell
them, if they do (turn pro), what to expect and what not to expect.
I’ll kind of give them an overall view.”
now 68, was drafted by the Cleveland Indians as an 18-year-old
amateur free agent in 1961 and made his major league debut with the
Indians two years later.
went on to pitch 26 more seasons with the White Sox, Yankees,
Dodgers, Angels and Indians, and finished with a career record of
288-231. He was a four-time All-Star and played in three World
was enjoying a stellar season with the Dodgers in 1974, posting a
13-3 record just past mid-season as the Dodgers were rolling toward
their first pennant in eight years. It was at that point he damaged
the ulnar collateral ligament in his left (pitching) elbow, which led
now famous Dr. Frank Jobe to attempt a procedure that had never been
replaced John’s damaged elbow ligament with a tendon from his right
forearm in a procedure that today is simply known as Tommy John
surgery. It not only salvaged John’s career – he won 164 games in
14 seasons after the surgeries – but also those of countless other
players of all ages who have underwent the procedure.
John was 31 in 1974, he suffered what many believed to be a
career-ending injury. By the time he retired in 1989 at age 46, he
was the oldest active player in the big leagues.
previously coached high school baseball after ending his professional
career in 1989 and also coached in the minor leagues.
had probably more fun coaching that high school team than anything
I’ve ever done in pro ball,” John said. “It was gratifying in
that you saw where they were when the season started and you saw
where they were when the season ended, and how much they had grown as
thing I tried to do when I coached was teach the kids respect for the
John will head to San Diego late next week for a whirl-wind visit
that he eagerly anticipates.
know I’m going to enjoy it. It’s going to be fun,” he said.
“I’m going to enjoy meeting the people at Perfect Game and I will
really enjoy meeting the players and answering any questions that
they may have of some old goat named Tommy John.”