Tommy John Surgery – Firsts

Position

Various

Surgery Date

Mesa -89, Farrell-90/91, Canseco-93, Schoeneweis-94

Return to Play

Mesa-90, Farrell-93, Canseco-94, Schoeneweis-96

Post-Surgical MLB Career

Surgeon

Dr. Frank Jobe – Farrell and Canseco

AJ Burnett

Pitcher
April 29, 2003
June 3, 2004
MLB 12 years; World Series Champion 2009, Selected to 2015 All-Star; Led league in starts in 2008 and 2014
Dr. James Andrews
AJ Burnett is a former MLB pitcher that made his debut in 1999 for the Florida Marlins.

Tommy John Surgery

During his first full season in 2001, Burnett would throw a no-hitter for Marlins.  Burnett would have success early in his career but after only 4 starts in 2003, he would land on the disabled list diagnosed with an elbow injury requiring Tommy John surgery just as his career had begun to establish as a top-rotation pitcher. He had his elbow reconstructed by Dr. Jobe contemporary, Dr. James Andrews, requiring a 14-month rehab prior to his return

Return to Play

Burnett would return to an MLB mound in June of 2004 making 19 starts for the Marlins, going 7–6 with an ERA of 3.68. His would also reach over 100+ mph regularly on his pitches.

After Tommy John Accolades

Burnett would go on to pitch an additional 12 years before retiring in 2015 and a 17-year MLB career. Post surgery, he led the league twice in starts, logged 2,200 innings, appeared in 8 postseason games, was a World Series champ in 2009 and an All-Star selection in his final season at age 38.

 

Joakim Soria

Pitcher
2003 / 2012
2005 / 2013
MLB 14 years; Selected to 2008 and 2010 All-Star; 229 career saves; 760 innings pitched
Dr. Frank Jobe; Dr. Lew Yocum
Joakim Soria is a former MLB pitcher and was recognized as one of best closers in the game during his early career with the KC Royals.

Tommy John Surgery

Making his debut in 2007, he would advance to the majors after starting his career in the Mexican League and played for 9 different teams spanning a 14-year career.  Soria would undergo Tommy John Surgery at age 19 while in the Dodgers minor league system in 2003 under the care of Dr. Frank Jobe of the Kerlan-Jobe Orthopaedic Clinic and was shut down for 2 years. He would need a second Tommy John a decade later this time performed by Dr. Lewis Yocum.

Return to Play

After two years off and continued development in the minors with his repaired elbow, Soria would make his MLB debut in 2007 for the KC Royals and again returned to form after his second Tommy John after a 15-month rehab midway through the 2013 season for the Texas Rangers.

After Tommy John Accolades

After his first Tommy John, remarkedly, Soria would put together one of the most impressive starts to an MLB career with the Royals including 2 All-Star game selections, 120 saves and an ERA just over 2.00. He would go on to record his 200th career save after his 2nd TJ and finish in the top 50 of career save leaders and a 3.11 ERA.

 

John Franco

Pitcher
May 15, 2002
May 30, 2003
One of the oldest players ever to return and compete from Tommy John Surgery at age 41. Went on to pitch additional 3 years in the majors and finished with the most recorded saves by a left-handed pitcher in MLB history.
Dr. Lew Yocum
John Franco is a former MLB relief pitcher and holds the MLB record for the most recorded saves by a lefty.

Tommy John Surgery

John Franco is a former MLB relief pitcher recognized as the having the most saves in MLB history among left-handed pitchers with 424. Making his debut in 1984, he would play for 3 different teams over his 21-year career in the majors. Having logged over 1,100 innings during his first 18 years MLB career, elbow injuries caused him to miss the 2002 season and eventually became one of the oldest MLB pitchers to undergo Tommy John surgery performed by Dr. Lew Yocum.

Return to Play

After a 12-month rehab of his repaired elbow, Franco would return to the mound in May of the 2003 season, primarily as in a set-up and middle reliever role.

After Tommy John Accolades

Franco would go on to pitch an additional 3 seasons after his elbow reconstruction, being one ofthe oldest players ever to return from Tommy John surgery. He would go on to log over 120 innings with his reconstructed elbow. Franco retired at the age of 44, finishing in the top five all-time in saves, record 1245 innings and with an impressive 2.95 career ERA.

 

 

 

 

John Smoltz

Pitcher
March 23, 2000
May 17, 2001
8 years; 4 time All-Star, NL leader in wins and starts in 2006, League leader in saves in 2002
Dr. James Andrews
John Smoltz is a former MLB pitcher primarily recognized as a Hall of Famer for the Braves dynasty teams of the 1990’s and 2000’s

Tommy John Surgery

Smoltz played for 3 teams over his 21-year MLB career both as a starting pitching and reliever. Prior to injuring his elbow, Smoltz had averaged over 220 innings per season over a 10-season span, appearing in over 300 games plus 200 innings in postseason for the perennial contender Atlanta Braves. The workload took its toll which led to elbow issues and Tommy John surgery prior to the 2000 season, performed by Dr. Jobe contemporary, Dr. James Andrews.

Return to Play

After a 14-month rehab of his repaired elbow, Smoltz would return to the mound in May of the 2001 season. His return as a starter would yield inconsistent success and he would transition full time as a reliever where he found his form.

After Tommy John Accolades

Smoltz would pitch 8 more seasons on his reconstructed elbow, pitch +1,000 innings, set the NL record for most consecutive saves (55), selected to 4 All-Stars games, and lead his teams to 6 postseasons. He is the only pitcher in MLB history to have recorded both 200 wins, 150 saves, and 3,000 strikeouts.  Smoltz would later be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2015.

 

 

 

Eric Gagné

Pitcher
1997, June 2005
1998, April 2006
10 years, first pitcher to record 50 saves in more than one season and also the fastest pitcher to ever reach the 100-save plateau, All-Star game ’03 – ’05, CY Young Award 2004, 152 saves in 3-year span
Dr. Frank Jobe, Dr. Ralph Gambardella
Eric Gagné is a former MLB pitcher recognized as one of most notable closers in the game when he converted over from a starter.

Tommy John Surgery

Gagné was recognized for setting an MLB record 84-consecutive saves chances from 2002-2004.  With multiple surgeries still considered a rarity, Gagné would undergo Tommy John surgery for a second time in 2005. He first had a repair to his elbow in 1997 after being drafted by the Dodgers, performed by Dr. Frack Jobe. The second surgery was done under the care of Dr. Ralph Gambardella placing him on the disabled list for the entire 2006 season.

Return to Play

After his first stint with Tommy John, Gagné made his MLB debut in 1999 with his reconstructed elbow as a starter. He would not rise to prominence until his transition to the bullpen beginning in 2003 where he was recognized as the top reliever in baseball prior to his second injury. His would pitch off and on after his second surgery with the Rangers, Red Sox and Brewers through his final MLB season in 2008.

After Tommy John Accolades

Recognized as one of the preeminent closers during the decade, Gagné converted all 55 save opportunities in 2003 enroute to becoming both the first pitcher to record 50 saves in more than one season and also the fastest pitcher to ever reach the 100-save plateau, selected to the All-Star game in ’03 – ’05, awarded the CY Young in 2004 and amassed 152 saves in 3 years.

 

 

 

Tom Gordon

Pitcher
December 13, 1999
May 3, 2001
9 years, 460 games, All-Star Game selection in 2004 and 2006, Only pitcher earn over 100 wins, have over 100 saves, and over 100 holds
Dr. James Andrews
Tom “Flash” Gordon is a former MLB pitcher and played for 8 clubs over his 21-year career.

Tommy John Surgery

Tom Gordon is a former MLB pitcher was nicknamed “Flash” recognized as one of most notable closers in the game in his latter career and recognized for his MLB record 54-consecutive saves (at the time). Making his debut in 1988, he would play for 8 different teams over his 21-year career in the majors. After setting the consecutive saves record during the 1999 season for the Red Sox, Gordon suffered elbow complications and eventually was shut down for the year and underwent Tommy John Surgery under the care of Dr. Jobe’s contemporary, Dr. James Andrews and would miss the entire 2000 season.

Return to Play

After a 17-month rehab of his repaired elbow, Gordon would return to the mound in May of the 2001 season. He would again return form and post an impressive 27-saves season and respectable 3.38 ERA, for the Chicago Cubs.

After Tommy John Accolades

Gordon would go on to pitch an additional 9 seasons after his elbow reconstruction, being selected to the All-Star game in ’04 and ’06, appearing in 376 games and 460 innings pitched. He retired as the only pitcher in MLB history to have over 100 wins, over 100 saves, and over 100 holds.

 

 

 

Tommy John Surgery – Firsts

Various
Mesa -89, Farrell-90/91, Canseco-93, Schoeneweis-94
Mesa-90, Farrell-93, Canseco-94, Schoeneweis-96
Dr. Frank Jobe – Farrell and Canseco
These MLB players are in a unique class for being the Firsts for Tommy John Surgery

Jose Mesa

Jose Mesa is a former MLB pitcher for 8 teams and recognized as a feared closer and competitor.  He was the first non-U.S. born MLB player to undergo Tommy John surgery in 1989.  He would return to compete for 22 years after his elbow reconstruction.

John Farrell

Farrell is a former MLB pitcher and later went on to have an MLB coaching and managerial career. He helmed the Boston Red Sox in 2013 when they won the 2013 World Series. He will be remembered as the first MLB player to undergo Tommy John surgery twice (1990 and 1991) and return to compete successfully and performed by Dr. Frank Jobe

Jose Conseco

Conseco is a former MLB slugger winning AL Rookie of the Year honors in 1986 and played for 17 years slugging over 400 home runs.  He would be the first Cuban-born MLB player to undergo Tommy John surgery in 1993.perfromed by Dr. Frank Jobe.

Scott Schoeneweis

Schoeneweis is a former MLB pitcher having played for 8 teams over a 12-year career.  Schoeneweis’ Tommy John surgery experience would happen while he was a collegiate pitcher for Duke University in 1994.  He is recognized in one of the first collegiate baseball players to undergo Tommy John surgery and compete successfully at the MLB level.

 

 

Paul Molitor

IF/DH
May 21, 1984
April 9, 1985
14 years, 1,900+ games, league hit leader 3x, 6 All-Star selections, WS Champ and MVP 1993
Dr. Frank Jobe
Molitor is a former MLB Hall-of-Fame player having played for 3 clubs over his 21-year career.

Tommy John Surgery

Molitor was selected as the 3rd over-all pick in the 1977 MLB amateur draft by the Milwaukee Brewers and earned ROY runner-up honors in 1978 and would become a prolific hitter before his injury in 1984. Molitor would become the first-ever position player to undergo Tommy John surgery on his throwing arm in 1984. The UCL would be repaired by Dr. Frank Jobe and he would benefit from a quicker return to competition as a non-pitcher due to less demand and stress on his throwing arm required for a non-pitcher at the time.

Return to the Play

Molitor would return to play in 1985 and would earn an All-Star game selection as a Brewer, batting .297 and in 140 games and fielding percentage of .953.

After Tommy John Accolades

Molitor played a total of 1,900+ games after Tommy John, led the league in hits 3 times, earned 6 All-Star game selections and would finish with 3,319 career hits and a .304 batting average. He appeared in 2 World Series, winning the MVP award with the 1993 Champs, Toronto Blue Jays. He was inducted in the Baseball Hall-of-Fame in 2004 and is the first-ever MLB player inducted as a Tommy John surgery recipient.

 

 

 

Matt Morris

Pitcher
April 13 ,1999
May 30, 2000
9 Years, 10 post season series, 2001 NL wins leader (22), 2x All-Star, 1,400+ innings, 7 consecutive double-digit win seasons
Dr. James Andrews
Matt Morris is a former MLB player who pitched for the Cardinals and others spanning a 13-year career.

Tommy John Surgery

He was selected in the 12th round by the St. Louis Cardinals in 1995 and made is MLB debut in 1997 earning runner up in the ROY in 1997.  Through his early career, he became a top-of-the-rotation pitcher for the club. Morris would by plagued by elbow discomfort before the 1999 season and finally rupturing his UCL in Spring training. He would undergo Tommy John Surgery in 1999 and sidelined for the next 14 months. The procedure was performed by Dr. James Andrews, a contemporary of the Dr. Jobe.

Return to the Mound

Morris would return to the mound midway through the 2000 campaign for the redbirds and again gain his form leading up to the 2001 season.

After Tommy John Accolades

With a successful return to competition after surgery, Morris went on to earn 2 consecutive All-Star selections in 2001 and 2002 while leading the league in wins with 22 in his first full season after his return. He would go on to log 7 consecutive double digit win seasons while leading the Cardinals to 4 Division championships, record 1,400+ innings and 10 post season series, including the 2004 World Series.

 

 

Sterling Hitchcock

Pitcher
June 6, 2000
July 4, 2001
4 Years, 2 post season series, 100+ appearance and 200+ innings.
Dr. Lewis Yocum
Sterling Hitchcock is a former MLB player who pitched for 4 clubs spanning a 13-year career.

Tommy John Surgery

He was selected in the 9th round by the NY Yankees in 1989 and best remembered for his performance in the 1998 playoffs with the Padres, in which he was named the NLCS MVP leading them to the World Series.  Plagued by elbow injuries, he underwent Tommy John Surgery in 2000 under the care of Dr. Lewis Yocum of the Kerlan-Jobe Orthopaedic Clinic

Return to the Mound

Hitchcock would return to the mound midway through the 2001 campaign in a relatively shortened rehab period (13 months for the time) for the Padres and would be traded back to the Yankees at the trade deadline where he logged 70+ innings to close out the regular season campaign.

After Tommy John Accolades

Hitchcock went on to pitch an additional 4 years after returning from Tommy John, appearing in the 2001 World Series.  Post Tommy John, he would appear in over 100 games and log over 200+ innings on his reconstructed elbow before retiring in 2004.

 

Kerry Woods

Pitcher
April 8, 1999
May 2, 2000
11 Years, 6 post-season season appearances, 2 All-Stars, Led NL in SO in 2003 with 266
Dr. James Andrews
Kerry Woods is a former MLB player who pitched for 3 clubs and was originally drafted by the Chicago Cubs.

Tommy John Surgery

He played all or part of fourteen seasons, coming to prominence as a 20-year-old rookie striking out 20 Astros in a single game and later being named NL ROY.  Bothered by elbow soreness during his 1998 rookie year, Wood would later rupture his UCL in spring training of 1999 requiring Tommy John.   The surgery would be performed by Dr. Jobe’s contemporary and renowned orthopedist, Dr. James Andrews that would bench the rookie phenom causing him to miss the 1999 season.

Return to the Mound

With advances with the now common procedure, Woods returned to an MLB mound after a little over one year of rehab and go on to record 23 starts and logging nearly 140 innings on his reconstructed elbow in 2000.

After Tommy John Accolades

Woods returned to full form in 2001 and not missing a start during the campaign. He would total 13 more seasons after surgery and later transition from starter to reliever. He was selected to the NL All-star team in 2003 and 2008 leading his team to the NL Central Division crown in back-to-back years in 2007-2008 and would appear in 6 post-season series.

David Wells

Pitcher
September 27, 1996
1999
11 Years, 8 post-season season appearances, 2 World Series, 330 games and 900 innings
Dr. James Andrews
David Wells is a former MLB player who pitched for 9 clubs and was originally drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays.

Tommy John Surgery

A journeyman pitcher, Wells pitched for 21 seasons for different 9 clubs originally drafted by Toronto Blue Jays in 1982 out of high school.  Wells suffered his UCL injury while in the Blue Jays’ minor league system in 1985 and underwent the procedure setting him back a year.  The surgery was performed by a Dr. Jobe contemporary and renowned orthopedist, Dr. James Andrews.

Return to the Mound

His teammates affectionately nicknamed him “Boomer,” he would return to pitch after a prolonged rehab period with his newly reconstructed elbow in 1986 and Wells would make his Major League debut in 1987 for the Toronto Blue Jays, marked by a successful stint with the upstart Blue Jays and post-season runs from 1989 – 1992

After Tommy John Accolades

Wells’ MLB career would span two decades after Tommy John surgery, appearing in 660 games, 239 career wins and over 3,400 innings pitched. He made 17 postseason appearances including two World Series championships and selected to 3 All-Stars games selections. Wells may be best remembered for his  performance on May 17, 1998, when he pitched the 15th perfect game in baseball history, when he blanked the Minnesota Twins, 4–0.

Colby Lewis

Pitcher
September 27, 1996
1999
11 Years, 8 post-season season appearances, 2 World Series, 330 games and 900 innings
Dr. Frank Jobe
Colby Lewis is a former MLB pitcher who underwent Tommy John surgery as a high school MLB prospect in 1996.

Tommy John Surgery

Colby Lewis, popularly nicknamed “Cobra”, was Major League Baseball pitcher. His MLB career spanned 11 years playing for the Detroit Tigers, Oakland Athletics, and Texas Rangers. He was one of the first prominent MLBers to have undergone Tommy John surgery while in High School in 1996 and what began a concerning trend of younger athletes experiencing elbow injury due to overuse. The procedure was performed by the late Dr. Frank Jobe.   He would not return to competitive play for another 2 years after his ruptured UCL.

Return to the Mound

Upon his return to the pitching mound, he was promptly drafted in the first round of the 1999 amateur draft (sandwich pick) by the Texas Rangers.   With his reconstructed elbow, he would eventually make it to the big leagues and made his MLB debut in 2002.

After Tommy John Accolades

Lewis went on to pitch in the Majors and pro Japanese leagues until his retirement in 2016, logging over 1,200 innings pitched on his reconstructed elbow. He would appear in 8 post season series and lead the Rangers to consecutive World Series appearances in 2010 and 2011.

Norm Charlton

Pitcher
July 12, 1993
April 26, 1995
7 Years, 5 post-season appearances, 330 games and 900 innings
Dr. Frank Jobe
Norm Charlton is a former MLB reliever who underwent Tommy John surgery in 1993 and pitched for 6 different clubs over a 13-year career.

Tommy John Surgery

Norm Charlton was drafted in the first round of the 1984 MLB draft by the Montreal Expos and later make his MLB debut in 1988 with the Cincinnati Reds.  He was best known as being part of the infamous “Nasty Boys” relief pitching corps for the 1990 Reds team who won the World Series and was coined “the Sherriff” by his teammates.

He would later be diagnosed with a ruptured UCL and underwent Tommy John surgery mid-way through the 1993 season.

Return to the Mound

Charlton was recognized for his part in two beloved Mariners teams.  After surgery under the care of Dr. Frank Jobe in July of 1993 requiring the entire 1994 season for rehab, he would return in April of 1995, he would be involved in a mid-season trade that would make him the Seattle’s closer and contribute to the first ever post-season appearance by the “refuse-to-lose” franchise that year.

After Tommy John Accolades

Charlton went on to pitch an additional seven years after returning from Tommy John in 1995 and appeared in 330 games and 900 innings pitched on his reconstructed elbow.  He made appearance in five post-season series including his role in the Mariners’ record setting year of 2001 that would set the MLB record for most regular season wins at 116 that catapulted them to the ALCS.  Charlton retired from baseball after the 2001 season with a career record of 51-54, an ERA of 3.71, 808 strikeouts, and 97 saves.

Todd Worrell

Pitcher
December 1, 1989
April 6, 1992
6 Years, 2 All-Star Games, NL Save leader in 1996, +330 games
Dr. Frank Jobe
Todd Worrell is a former MLB reliever who underwent Tommy John surgery in 1989 and was a feared closer through the second half of the eighties over a 11-year career.

Tommy John Surgery

Todd Worrell was draft in the first round of the 1982 MLB draft and would make his MLB debut as a formidable and reliable closer for the St. Louis Cardinals recording back-to-back 30 save seasons to start his career, earning him NL ROY honors in 1986. Midway through the 1989 campaign, Worrell suffered a setback in his overworked pitching elbow that had averaged +70 appearances during his first three full seasons in the majors.  He was diagnosed with a ruptured UCL and underwent Tommy John surgery in 1989.

Return to the Mound

After surgery under the care of Dr. Frank Jobe and a prolonged rehab period, Worrell would return to the mound for the Cardinals in April of 1992 appearing in 67 games and posting a stingy 2.11 ERA.

After Tommy John Accolades

His successful return after surgery would yield his reconstructed pitching elbow an additional six years, serving as the featured closer for the Cardinals and Los Angeles Dodgers.  He twice would be a NL All-Star selection in 1995 and 1996 and went on to lead the NL with 44 saves in 1996.  Worrell retired after an 11-year MLB career in 1997 and is considered when the best closers of his era.

Steve Ontiveros

Pitcher
July 20, 1989; June 13, 1996
Sept 13, 1990; 2000
5 Years, 1994 AL ERA leader; 1995 All-Star
Drs. Frank Jobe and Lewis Yocum
Steve Ontiveros, was a former MLB pitcher and first athlete to undergo Tommy John surgery twice.

Tommy John Surgery

Ontiveros was one of the rare big league pitchers to have gone to Tommy John surgery twice and credited as the first to successfully returning to a MLB mound after the each, although hampered by injuries, his career never regained his form after the second.  Ontiveros suffered his first UCL injury during the 1989 season and underwent Tommy John surgery in July of that same year under the care of Dr. Frank Jobe.  He would injure the elbow in 1996 and became the first known athlete to receive a second treatment, this time by Jobe mentee, Dr. Lewis Yocum. Both of the Kerlan-Jobe Orthopaedic Clinic.

Return to the Mound

After the initial Tommy John procedure in July of 1989, Ontiveros returned in relatively short period from rehab and took to a MLB mound in September of 1990.  His second bout with UCL reconstruction in June of 1996, wasn’t so fortuitous.  At the time, a second procedure was projected to have only a 50% chance for a successful return.  He remained in rehab for nearly 4 baseball seasons only to return to play for 3 appearances before retiring at the age of 39.

 After Tommy John Accolades

After his first return from Tommy John, Ontiveros would go on to pitch an additional 5 years for 3 different clubs, earning AL ERA title in 1994 posting a stingy 2.65. In 1995 he was selected to the AL All-star team as a member of the Oakland A’s.  With his career cut short after this second UCL injury, Ontiveros retired after a 10-year MLB career after the 2000 season appearing in over 200 games and posting a career 3.67 ERA.