Former major league pitcher Tommy John was never the biggest guy on the baseball diamond or the basketball court while growing up in Terre Haute, Ind., but he told a crowd of Emory & Henry students and staff there is no shortcut to success.
Tommy John spent 26 seasons in the major leagues. He had 700 starts in the major league, but it was one infamous game in 1974 for the Los Angeles Dodgers that changed John's career and the history of baseball forever.
"When I threw that one pitch, it felt like someone stabbing me in the elbow,” John told the crowd.
Tommy John had to have ulnar collateral ligament transplant surgery, a procedure that is now commonly known as 'Tommy John surgery.' Prior to 1974, the injury meant the end of a baseball player’s career. Current major league ace Stephen Strasburg of the Washington Nationals in the most recent high profile pitcher to have the surgery.
John was able to fully recover from his injury, and in 1976 he was awarded the National League Comeback Player of the Year award. He says that the key to success and overcoming obstacles in life is simple hard work.
"The better I got, the harder I worked," John said. "The harder I worked, the better I got."
Tommy John was able to win 164 more games with his golden reconstructed arm before his retirement in 1989 (a win total in itself that is only one game less than Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax’s entire career.) He says he owes much of his success to his curious nature.
"In whatever you do, be around the people who are good," John said. "Do it right, and do it often."
John now represents All-Star Scoreboards, the company that provided the new scoreboard that was recently installed at the E&H baseball field.