6.02.2010

Surgery, 1986 Topps

Name: Surgery
Team: Oakland A's
Position: Pitcher
Value of card: Seven ligament fragments
Key 1985 stat: 211 times under the scalpel
Player and procedure become one: The year was 1974, and a young pitcher named Surgery was enjoying a successful season with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Surgery spent the first half of the season mowing down batters, but spent the second half of the season mowed down by an injury. Surgery still had a passion for the game, so he opted for a procedure that had never been tested on a human. The procedure was called "Tommy John surgery," named after the two most generic first names for white Americans. Surgery went under the scalpel, and came out a better pitcher. As can be seen in the card above, Surgery went on to play until age 68, thus paving the way for hundreds of players who regained their form after the Tommy John procedure. Surgery, the man, felt so indebted to the procedure that he took its name as his own.
Fun (true) fact: Tommy John decided to retire in 1989 after 26 major league seasons when he surrendered two hits to Mark McGwire in his rookie season. McGwire's father had been John's dentist years before. When asked about his decision, John said, "When your dentist's kid starts hitting you, it's time to retire."

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