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Posted By Dr. Stan, the Stats Man

My guest blogger for this blog is Jack Dolan. From 1963-1965, Jack served as Associate Producer at ABC-TV Sports working under the tutelage of Roone Arledge and with such well-known broadcasters as Jim McKay, Curt Gowdy, Jack Buck, Chris Schinkel, et. al. Jack contributed to an earlier blog where we both told our stories about our first baseball games. If you would like to read this entertaining posting go to the January 2013 archives and look for the title “My First Baseball Game.”

 

Jack Dolan’s Review of the Movie “42”
"42” -- one of the best baseball movies ever made in my opinion. It's kind of interesting to me that arguably the best sports movies ever produced involve baseball (e.g. "Field of Dreams", "The Natural" etc.).   "42" was an accurate (by and large) depiction of the legend of Jackie Robinson and all the monumental challenges he went through in breaking the MLB color barrier back in the late 1940s post-World War II era which now seems like (and is) a lifetime ago. As a lifelong Dodger baseball fan (born in 1938) I lived through that period and can attest to this movie capturing the essence of it.
 
The movie is not without a couple of technical "glitches". To wit, an early scene depicts Dodger outfielder Gene Hermanski driving in Robinson with a game-winning run vs. the Phillies and their prejudicial manager Ben Chapman.   The movie depicts Hermanski as a right-handed batter when he was a left-handed batsman in reality. The famous movie poster scene of Dodger Hall-of-Fame SS Pee Wee Reese with his arm around rookie Robinson on the team's first visit to Cincinnati's Crosley Field (not far from Reese's Southern hometown of Louisville, KY) shows the pair dressed in Dodger home white uniforms instead of road grays.
 
However, the acting of the cast, particularly that of Harrison Ford who gives a very credible portrayal of Dodger GM and barrier-breaker Branch Rickey is excellent.   Scenes from the Dodgers' Florida-based spring training camps of the 1946- and- 47 seasons are quite realistic.   And the vignette of several young black boys following the Dodger train in Florida with Robinson aboard was rolled again while showing the end-of-movie credits. This was interesting (especially to baseball trivia fans) because in that the group was future MLB third baseman, Ed Charles, who was inspired by Robinson to carve out his own fine career in major league baseball.
 
In short, "42" was a big hit!    (And for those baseball trivia buffs, here's a question concerning Jackie Robinson.   Who was the first pitcher Robinson faced in a Major League baseball game?   Answer:    Boston Brave ace right-hander and Alabama native Johnny Sain in the 1947 season opener between the Dodgers and Braves!)   --- Jack Dolan
 
I also saw this “42” and agree with everything Jack said above. I would like to add the following comment. I believe Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier in the MLB was the first step that eventually led to an African- American ascending to the highest office in America. This is not meant to be a political endorsement but is meant to be an endorsement of our great country.
 
I would be interested in any comments you have about the movie.

 
Posted By Dr. Stan, the Stats Man

I really looked forward to a special weekend which consisted of my 51st high school reunion at Hackensack High School on Saturday, Sept 21, followed on Sunday by Mariano Rivera Day and the New York Football Giant game. The reunion was fabulous as I turned the clock back to 1962.

Driving home from the reunion Saturday evening through a torrential rain storm, I really looked forward to Sunday’s special events. One problem was the Yankees’ ceremony started the same time as the Giant game. Since I am both a fanatic Yankee and Giant fan, I went back and forth between the two stations. The Giants took care of that problem by embarrassing themselves. Putting the remote down, I stayed glued to the Yankees.

After seeing the gifts given by the other teams to Mariano, what would the Yankees give Mariano? The gifts included a rocking chair made of bats and a crystal glove. That’s fine, but the other things in the ceremony impressed me much more. One can say the Yankees know how to throw a party. In Monument Park his “42” was formally retired with Jackie Robinson’s wife and daughter looking on. This was a surprise because it was the first time in Yankee history that a current player had his number retired. Mariano then emerged from the bullpen and walked to the pitcher’s mound as Metallica performed “Enter Sandman.” Many of his former teammates then came out of the dugout to congratulate him. Mariano proceeded to thank everyone including teammates, George Steinbrenner, the Yankee organization, and the fans. One comical point was his thank you to his parents for creating such a wonderful person.

What I was looking at was not just the retirement of a legend but the end of another successful Yankee era. The game that followed the ceremony was a microcosm of the Yankee 2013 season. It seemed like a playoff game. It was fitting that the opponent was the San Francisco Giants, formerly the New York Giants, the old rival of the Yankees before they moved in 1957. The Yankee pitcher for the game was Andy Pettitte, who announced his second retirement a few days earlier. Would Andy and Mariano save the Yankee season? Andy was pitching as if he was in his 20s and allowed no hits going into the sixth inning leading 1 to 0. Wouldn’t it be something for Andy, at the age of 41, to pitch a no-hitter in his last start at Yankee Stadium? The dream ended when Andy hung a slider to Ehire Adranza, who deposited his first ML home run into the left-field stands. Andy exited the game in the eighth inning after giving up a double with the score tied at 1. Robertson yielded a go ahead single and Mariano relieved him with one out and the Yankees trailing 2 to 1. Mariano got the final two outs. The bottom of the inning set the stage for a story-book ending. Cano doubled and the Yankees had runners on second and third with no outs. I am sure that the fans were thinking like I was: Wouldn’t it be great for Mariano to get either a save or win on his day! It was not to be. Almonte, the pitch runner on third, made a bonehead running error and was thrown out at home plate. This left runners on first and second. Nunez, with two outs, singled to left but Cano was thrown out at home plate ending the inning. Mariano pitched a scoreless top of the ninth. When Overbay led off the bottom of the ninth by striking out, the small hope of reaching the playoffs depended on Brendan Ryan (a 190 hitter) and J.R. Murphy (a rookie with 12 ML at-bats). Clearly, I could hear the fat-lady singing; it was over. As mentioned in a previous blog, I believe the successful era of 17 playoff appearances including five World Series championships in the past 18 years just ended.

For all of us Yankee fans that love our National Pastime, I wish to thank Mariano for always doing it the right way and for his humility.


 
Posted By Dr. Stan, the Stats Man


This month I posted 2 blogs about Tommy John and Dr. Frank Jobe and why both should be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. After reading my posts, my wife, Tara, reminded me about the day our family met Tommy John. Below is Tara’s story about what happened that day.

In 1987, when our younger son, Matt, turned ten, our gift to him was a ticket to attend Tommy John’s Baseball Camp in New Jersey. Even by ten, Matt loved playing and watching baseball and we knew this would be a special day for him. We found out about the camp from my sister, Mavra. When she was a young adult, she gave Tommy John’s children horseback riding lessons. She suggested we bring Matt to the camp and she would personally introduce him to Tommy John.

The special day arrived. We drove from CT to NJ and picked up my sister and headed over to the camp. We stood in the registration line. Tommy John was personally registering all of the children. When it was our turn, he looked up, saw Mavra, jumped up and gave her a hug. She introduced us and we asked if we could take pictures with him. He said certainly as soon as all of the registrations were completed.

True to his word, he came and found us and I started snapping pictures of him with my sons. I suddenly looked down at the camera and realized to my utter shock, that there was no film in it! I don’t know where I found the courage, but I asked if I could leave, buy film and then reshoot the pictures. I was mortified. He was so kind and said no problem.

So, Stan and I left the camp and drove around until we found film. When the camp day ended, Tommy John once again, extremely graciously, posed for pictures with my children. It was a day we all remembered for a variety of reasons. Matt loved the camp. Brad, Matt, and Stan were thrilled to meet one of their baseball heroes and I was overwhelmed with his patience and kindness. What could have been a disappointing disaster turned into a day we never forgot and left us memories of a true gentleman and baseball hero  in all of our eyes.

 

Tommy John Baseball Camp 1987

From left to right: Brad Rothman, Matt Rothman, Tommy John, Mavra McCann, Stan Rothman


 
Posted By Dr. Stan, the Stats Man


This posting will put forth the argument that both Tommy John and Dr. Frank Jobe be elected to Baseball’s Hall of Fame (HOF). Both men would have to be elected by the Veterans Committee of the HOF. This committee considers executives, umpires, coaches, long-retired players, and other people who pioneered monumental positive changes to the game of baseball. Tommy John would fit the category of a long-retired player and Dr. Jobe would be in the category of producing a monumental positive change to baseball.

The [AP] picture below show Tommy John on the left and Dr. Jobe on the right. Tommy John and Dr. Frank Jobe

Here is my case for Tommy John’s admittance to the HOF. In my previous posting, I presented the pitching statistics for Tommy John during his 26 year career which ended in 1989. His 288 wins (the most by any pitcher not in the HOF) is 12 short of the magic number of 300, understood to be the automatic number of wins for a pitcher to get into the HOF. If he had not missed the entire 1975 season because of his surgery, there is no doubt he would have gotten those 12 extra wins. Let us not forget he was the first person to undergo Tommy John Surgery (TJS). In spite of Dr. Jobe warning him he never did this type of surgery before and the chances of it being successful was 1 in 100, he still said to Dr. Jobe, “Let’s do it.” Tommy spent the entire 1975 year rehabilitating his elbow and changed his pitching style to put less pressure on his elbow. After the surgery, starting in 1976 he recorded 164 wins which is one less than first-ballot Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax won in his entire career.

Now, here is my case for Dr. Jobe’s admission to the HOF. The 88 year-old developer of

TJS served in WWII where he delivered medical supplies to doctors. At the age of 20, a doctor suggested he go to medical school. After graduating medical school, he went on to become an orthopedic surgeon. His medical group linked up with the L.A. Dodgers and he served for 40 years as the Dodgers’ team physician. In the 60s his most famous patient was Sandy Koufax. As Dr. Jobe said, “If I’d thought of the surgery just a couple of years earlier, we’d be calling it Sandy Koufax Surgery.” Since he developed his revolutionary Tommy John Surgery in 1974, it has been estimated that more than 1,000 pitchers have had their careers extended by TJS. Recently, Adam Wainwright, Stephen Strasburg, and Anibal Sanchez have successfully continued their careers after TJS. Past pitchers John Smoltz and David Wells would have had their careers stopped if it wasn’t for TJS.

Such people as Henry Chadwick, the sportswriter in the 1800s who invented the box-score and Roger Bresnahan, a former catcher who developed the idea of the batting helmet and introduced the shin-guard, have been elected to the HOF by the Veterans Committee because of their pioneer contributions to baseball.

At the July 27, 2013 ceremony honoring Dr. Jobe, Jeff Idelson, President of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum said, "The ground-breaking work of Dr. Frank Jobe to conceptualize, develop, refine and make mainstream Tommy John Surgery, a complex elbow procedure that has furthered the careers of hundreds of ballplayers, is a testament to the positive role of medicine in our game’s growth."

Yes, I truly believe both these men should have their tickets punched for the Hall Of Fame.


 
Posted By Dr. Stan, the Stats Man

When considering people who have made baseball better, of course the name Branch Rickey immediately comes to mind. By signing Jackie Robinson to a Dodger contract, Branch Rickey opened the door of Major League Baseball to African-Americans.  In 1974, an orthopedic surgeon Dr. Frank Jobe introduced a surgical procedure of replacing a damaged ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) in the elbow of the throwing arm with a tendon from the forearm of the other arm. This procedure saved the careers of many players. The ballplayer that was the first to undergo this surgery was Tommy John. This surgery became known as the Tommy John Surgery or just the TJS. When Dr. Jobe was asked why the surgery was called the Tommy John Surgery. He said, “Since Tommy and John are both first names it just flowed.” There are currently 366 pitchers among all players on active rosters of Major League Teams. Of those, approximately 25% have had the TJS. What brought me to this topic was the partial tear of the UCL suffered by Matt Harvey of the Mets.

Dr Frank Jobe was the team physician for the Dodgers. In 1974, Tommy John, a 31 year old left-handed pitcher for the L.A. Dodgers, was pitching against the Montreal Expos. After delivering a pitch he felt a tremendous pain in his elbow. He just walked off the mound toward the dugout, passing his manager Walter Alston who was coming out to see what was wrong. Besides being the Dodger team doctor, he was also a friend of Tommy’s. In those days there was no MRI. Tommy was told to rest his arm for six weeks. When the rest failed to relieve the pain, Tommy told Dr. Jobe to fix the elbow. After opening up the elbow to see the damage, Dr. Jobe said to Tommy, “I don’t know how to fix this ligament damage.” But Dr. Jobe remembered working at a hospital with polio patients who needed tendons to be removed. This previous work led him to design this new revolutionary surgery. He told Tommy it is a 1 in 100 chance you will again pitch in the Majors with this surgery but without the surgery you have zero chance of pitching again. Tommy said to his friend, “Just do it.” When asked in an interview which player was most successful after the surgery, Tommy said, “It was I.” The statistics back up his claim.

Tommy John had a 26 year pitching career from 1963 to 1989. His pre-TJS period was from 1963 to 1974; his post-TJS period extended from 1976 to 1989. The table below compares his statistics for these two periods

 

.Tommy John Statistics Pre and Post Surgery


Observe, he had more wins and pitched more innings after the surgery. In the first five years after the surgery he placed in the top four in three Cy Young votes. John built a resume worthy of consideration for the Hall of Fame. He made four All-Star appearances. His total of 4,710 innings ranks 20thall-time, and he is 26th in both wins and shutouts (46). . From 1977 to 1981 he helped the Dodgers and Yankees to four postseason appearances and three pennants. Also, looking at the website baseball-reference, of the 10 pitchers he is most similar to seven are in the Hall of Fame. Unfortunately, he is 12 wins short of 300 (the magic number for a pitcher to join the Hall of Fame) and he never led his league in any of the three big categories of wins, ERA or strikeouts. He was on the Hall of Fame ballot for 15 years and his best percentage vote was in 2009 when he received 31.7% of the votes, far short of the required 75%.

To be continued. . .


 

 

 
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