|Tommy John Surgery
Baseball players and fans call it Tommy John surgery, after the pitcher who was the first to have the surgery 29 years ago. By any designation, it is one of the major advancements in sports medicine in the last quarter century. Technically it is a ulnar collateral ligament replacements procedure.
Pitching overhand is a particularly stressful motion; the strain it puts on a player's joint is commonly injurious. Pitchers such as Kerry Wood, Matt Morris, John Smoltz, Mariano Rivera, Tom Gordon, and Eric Gagne all have a four inch scar on their pitching arms as evidence of this career saving surgery.
These players typically perform as well, if not better, after the operation and have stronger arms, with radar gun readings to match. "It felt so good when I came back, I said I recommend it to everybody ... regardless what your ligament looks like," Chicago White Sox reliever Billy Koch says jokingly. He blew out his elbow in his third professional appeara...