May 1, 2008 – Tommy John Talks May 1, 2008Posted by atlanticleaguenews in Uncategorized.
John Says Goodbye To Yankee Stadium: The scar on his elbow is more famous than most professional athletes.
It’s a thin white line that stretches six or seven inches across the inside of his left arm.
That arm — and scar — belongs to Tommy John.
John is best known for the surgery that shelves big-league pitchers up to a year and a half. It’s called Tommy John surgery; you may have heard of it.
The 64-year-old former big leaguer spends these days managing the independent Atlantic League’s Bridgeport Bluefish. It’s an enjoyable gig for a man who thinks he should be in the Hall of Fame.
This isn’t about his famous injury, his 288 career wins (6th among left-handers all-time) or the 2245 strikeouts in 26 seasons that are most likely keeping him from being enshrined. This is about Yankee Stadium.
John joined the Yankees in 1979. He signed as a free agent and was the ace of a rotation consisting of Ron Guidry, Luis Tiant and Catfish Hunter. He won more than half of the 37 games he appeared in and tossed 17 complete games. John was 36.
The southpaw spent eight years in New York. He was a two-time Yankees All-Star, pitched in three games of their 1981 World Series loss to the Dodgers and came oh-so-close to winning a Cy Young.
It’s a resume unlike many pitchers who’ve been honored to done pinstripes.
On May 25, 1989, John pitched his final game at Yankee stadium. It was also the final game of his career.
“My last game, the people gave me a standing ovation,” John told me Tuesday, sitting inside the visiting manager’s office at Riverfront Stadium in Newark. “I thought that was really good because I hadn’t pitched that well, but they know I was at the end of my rope.”
As he walked down the dugout steps, the crowd got louder.
“I had to go back out for a curtain call. It was very nice, very nice,” John said, a smile plastered on his face.
Eighteen years later, Yankee Stadium is at the end of its rope. John agrees it’s time for a new one.
“It was needed when they rehabbed it in the ’70s and the Yankees were playing at Shea Stadium,” John said. “It’s time for something new. Time marches on.”
John said he may go back to the stadium for one final time. If he does, it will be for Old Timer’s Day.
“Maybe Sparky (Lyle) and I will hire a car and have it drive us in. We’ll make our appearance, kind of do the Joe D. wave and come back and manage.”
That last wave, with his left arm. The one with the famous scar. – Scott Stanchak
Foucault Talks Bears Baseball: While it’s 8:20 AM and I’m back in Newark for the second time in three days, I caught up with Bears pitching coach Steve Foucault before the team’s home opener, and we talked about this year’s pitching staff…
“Our bullpen has pitched very well. The first three games of the season, the starting pitching has struggled. But a lot of that probably has to do with the weather, and not having been in a meaningful game in six or eight months. Some guys that we have on our staff actually haven’t pitched in two years — Pellegrine hasn’t pitched in two years, Will Cunnane, Al Levine, and several other guys. It makes it difficult for them, and we want to get them in the game very early so they can get their feet wet and get the feeling back of what it means to be in a competitive game. Other than that, we’re just going to wait and see how the rotation goes the next couple times around, and if we have to make adjustments, we’ll make adjustments. But we won’t if we do not have to.”
On Benito Baez moving into the starting rotation:
“We weren’t sure initially when we got here, but looking at the pitchers we have, we thought (him as a starter) would be best for our staff. We weren’t sure who was going to be our closer, but then Al (Levine) got here, and he seemed to be throwing the ball well and he was healthy. He still had some good movement and quality pitches, so we decided to put Benito in the rotation. He’s healthy now, back to 100 percent, and it’s probably best for him and us at this point in time that he stay in the rotation.”
Comparing this year’s team to the 2007 Bears:
“It’s very hard to say. It would be very hard to repeat the offensive year that we had last year. We were scoring a lot of runs, and hitting a lot of home runs and could do a lot of things. Our pitching staff looks like it’s probably the same. We don’t have a dominant person yet, unless Will (Cunnane) turns out to be that guy. We had (Gary) Knotts last year, and we had a couple of guys during the season, (Jose) Garcia and (Harold) Eckert. They really solidified us, and (Bobby) Brownlie pitched well, of course. (Matt) Sweeney pitched well. But right now, it doesn’t look like it’s as strong as it was last year from a starting standpoint, but our bullpen looks just as good as we had last year, so we’ll see how the rotation pans out.”
Bluefish Take A Pike: The Bluefish have acquired P Matt Pike from the Can-Am League, and immediately placed him on the inactive list. No clue on this one…
Anyway, Pike led the Can-Am League in saves with 24 in 2007 for the Surf. Remember them?
No Longer Gone-Dolfo: Uggh. I hate my headlines sometimes. Anyway, Camden has re-signed INF Rob Gandolfo just three days after releasing him.
Alumni Transactions: Via a loyal reader, Nick Bierbrodt has signed with the Long Beach Armada, David Humen has landed with Fargo-Moorhead and Rich Garces has headed back to Nashua instead of re-uniting with Butch Hobson in Southern Maryland.
Ramon Nivar has agreed to terms with the New Jersey Jackals.
Random Thursday Notes: Managed to talk to Rafael Bergstrom for a minute or two before the game. Very interesting guy with a very interesting story, he should be a fun interview down the road.
If anyone took my Bears opening night post from the other night personally, don’t. Journalism isn’t about picking sides, and I’m as critical of the team I cover on a regular basis as I am anyone else.
Thursday Afternoon Photo Gallery:
Thursday Photos (Late Additions):
– Mike Ashmore