Tommy John Surgery, Second Person to Undergo

Brent Strom with the Cleveland Indians

“Tommy John Surgery” is the colloquial term for the medical procedure known as ulnar collateral ligament reconstruction. It is a procedure given mostly to baseball players — mostly pitchers — whose ulnar collateral ligaments (UCL) in their throwing elbows have become frayed or damaged from overuse to the point where the player cannot throw a baseball. As part of the procedure, the UCL is replaced by a tendon is taken from another part of the body or even from a cadaver. The surgery was developed by orthopedic surgeon Frank Jobe, and is named for Tommy John, a Los Angeles Dodger pitcher who in 1974 became the first person to undergo the surgery.

The second person to undergo Tommy John surgery was pitcher Brent Strom. He underwent the procedure in 1978.

Strom was selected in the second round in the 1967 January regular phase of the Major League Baseball draft, and again in the 6th round of the 1967 June draft secondary phase. Strom didn’t sign with a team until the 1970 June draft second phase when he was taken in the first round (3rd overall) by the New York Mets.

It was on July 31, 1972, in a game against the Montreal Expos when Strom as a New York Met that he made his first MLB start and appearance. The Mets beat the Expos 4—2. Strom pitched 6.2 innings, struck out 7, walked 4 (including 1 intentional walk), gave up 2 hits and 1 earned run. Strom was not awarded the win.

After the 1972 season Strom was traded to the Cleveland Indians. He was again traded to the San Diego Padres in 1974. He spent that year and part of 1975 in the minor leagues before being called up to the majors again. Strom was released by the Padres in 1978. After undergoing and recovering from Tommy John surgery, Strom signed with the Houston Astros in 1979, where he played in their minor league system for the next 3 seasons before retiring. He later became an Astros pitching coach.