Tracing the History of Tommy John Surgery Since 1974 Through Key MLB Pitchers

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Tracing the History of Tommy John Surgery Since 1974 Through Key MLB Pitchers
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images
Kerry Wood is one of the notable cases in the history of Tommy John surgery.

Since 1974, thousands of pitchers have had the same elbow reconstruction surgery first performed on Tommy John by Dr. Frank Jobe. Today, nearly one-third of current MLB pitchers have undergone the surgery, proving that this surgery has not only changed the game, it may have saved it.

While the surgery is universally known by the name of its first patient, there are plenty more in the club who share that unique triangular scar on the back of their pitching elbow. The history of the last 40 years of baseball can be traced through some of the men who have undergone the procedure.

I've proceeded chronologically, starting with the 1970s and then going by the half-decade, showing the exemplars of each era as baseball itself has overcome an injury to become a post-surgical entity.

This slideshow is one of a package of stories about Tommy John surgery that Bleacher Report is presenting in advance of this month's Baseball Hall of Fame ceremonies, at which Jobe will be honored. The other pieces look at the surgery's history and impact, detail the procedure and the questions surrounding it, and discuss the startling increase in Tommy John patients.

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