PSA 7 1973 Topps #258 Tommy John
Thomas Edward John Jr. (born May 22, 1943), nicknamed "the Bionic Man," is an American former professional baseball pitcher who played in Major League Baseball (MLB) for 26 seasons between 1963 and 1989. He played for the Cleveland Indians, Chicago White Sox, Los Angeles Dodgers, New York Yankees, California Angels, and Oakland Athletics. He was a four-time MLB All-Star and has the second-most wins (288) of any pitcher since 1900 not in the Hall of Fame. Known for his longevity, John was the Opening Day starter six times – three for the White Sox (1966, 1970, and 1971) and three times for the Yankees (1981, 1982, and 1989).
At the age of 18, in 1961, John was signed by the Indians, who were impressed with his curveball. After three seasons in the minor leagues for them, he was called up for the first time in 1963. He pitched two seasons for Cleveland before getting traded to the White Sox, with whom he would spend seven seasons. He established himself as a major league starter in 1965 and became Chicago's Opening Day starter in 1966. In 1968, he finished fifth in the American League (AL) with a 1.98 earned run average (ERA) and was named to his first All-Star team, though he missed the end of the season after he was injured in a fight with Dick McAuliffe. In 1971, pitching coach Johnny Sain tried to have John throw a slider more, but John had his highest ERA since 1964 and was traded to the Dodgers for Dick Allen after the season. He won 11 games in 1972 with the Dodgers, then led the National League (NL) in winning percentage over the next two seasons. In 1974, though, he suffered a potentially career-ending injury when he tore his ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) in a game against the Montreal Expos. Dr. Frank Jobe, the Dodger physician, performed ligament replacement surgery on John later that year. He missed the 1975 season recovering from surgery, but he became the first pitcher to successfully return to baseball following such surgery. "Tommy John" surgery has since become a common procedure among baseball pitchers, with one out of seven MLB pitchers in 2012 having received it at some point during their careers.
John had a 10–10 record his first year back from recovery. In 1977, John had his first career 20-win season, going 20–7 with a 2.78 ERA as the Dodgers won the NL West and reached the 1977 World Series. He helped the Dodgers return to the World Series in 1978 with a 17–10 record before leaving for the Yankees as a free agent. With the Yankees, John posted 20-win seasons in 1979 and 1980; he was an All-Star in those years as well as in 1978, his final year with the Dodgers. He appeared in three World Series contested between the Dodgers and Yankees, his only World Series appearances, and pitched for the losing team in all three. He was traded to the California Angels in 1982, for whom he made two starts in the AL Championship Series. He remained with the team until 1985, when he was released, though he spent the second half of the season pitching for the Oakland Athletics. Unsigned to begin 1986, it appeared that John's career might be over, but injuries to Yankee pitchers prompted New York to re-sign him. John won 13 games for the Yankees in 1987, then became the oldest player in baseball in 1988 following Phil Niekro's retirement. In 1989, he tied Deacon McGuire's record for most seasons pitched (26, later broken by Nolan Ryan) before retiring.
From 1995 through 2009, John was on the Hall of Fame ballot; he never received more than 31.7% of the votes (75% is required for election) but remains eligible to be chosen by the Modern Era Subcommittee of the Veterans Committee. He served as a broadcaster for the Minnesota Twins and the Yankees in the 1990s, then managed the Bridgeport Bluefish from 2007 through the first half of the 2009 season. Since retiring, he has served as a motivational speaker and also founded the "Let's Do It" Foundation, dedicated to raising awareness about suicides and preventing them.