Had John Smoltz not received a call from Tommy John in 1999, he might not have gained the distinction of being inducted into the Hall of Fame. He is officially become the first player inducted into Baseball’s Hall of Fame after undergoing Tommy John surgery.
Smoltz received this call as he attempted to return from this elbow surgery during the 2000 season, one in which his struggles as a starting pitcher transitioned him toward his brief stretch as a dominant closer. His frustration led him to contemplate retirement until he received some motivation from John, whose name is attached to this surgery because of the extended success he had after undergoing it in 1974.
‘I’m telling you, don’t [retire], you’ve got a lot of career left,” Smoltz said. “He was saying he pitched for 11 years [after the surgery] and it motivated me to go through the process. There wasn’t as much history then as there is today. It’s a no-brainer today as far as success rate, and I’m glad for it.”