Tommy John was signed by the Cleveland Indians in 1961. Tommy pitched in the minors from 1961-1964. He had a brief look late in 1963 and was 0-2 with a 2.25 ERA in 6 games. In 1964 John was 2-9 with a 3.91 ERA in 25 games (14 starts). After the 1964 season John was traded to the Chicago White Sox as part of a complicated three-team trade. He Isn't Afraid to Throw It - July 1964 Baseball Digest.
John became a starting pitcher in 1965. He appeared in 39 games (27 starts) and went 14-7 with a 3.09 ERA. Tommy led the AL in shutouts in 1966 (5) and 1967 (6). He was 14-11 with a 2.62 ERA in 1966 and 10-13 with a 2.47 ERA in 1967.
John was selected to the AL All Star team in 1968 (he pitched to two batters in the 8th inning and allowed a hit and then got a double play grounder) and went 10-5 with a 1.98 ERA in 25 starts. Tommy was injured during a game on August 22 and didn't pitch the rest of the season. Tommy John Paid The Price - March 1969 Baseball Digest.
Tommy spent three more seasons with the White Sox. He had sub-.500 records and his ERA was above 3 in all three of those seasons. After the 1971 season John was traded with Steve Huntz to the Los Angeles Dodgers for Dick Allen.
John went 11-5 with a 2.89 ERA in 29 starts in 1972. In 1973 John led the NL with a .696 winning percentage. He went 16-7 with a 3.10 ERA for the Dodgers.
Tommy was off to a great start in 1974. He was 13-3 with a 2.59 ERA in 22 starts when he hurt his arm in a game against the Montreal Expos on July 17. John had the surgery that now bears his name and missed the rest of the 1974 season and all of the 1975 season. At the time it was a new and experimental surgery and Dr. Frank Jobe had given Tommy a 1 in 100 chance of coming back to pitch. Tommy John Surgery A Career-Saving Procedure for Many Pitchers - May 2004 Baseball Digest.
John came back in 1976 to go 10-10 with a 3.09 ERA in 31 starts. Tommy John: The Bionic Pitcher - February 1976 Baseball Digest. Tommy had his best season for the Dodgers in 1977 when he went 20-7 with a 2.78 ERA. He finished second in NL Cy Young Award voting and 12th in MVP voting. John went 1-0 in two starts in the 1977 NLCS. Tommy started and lost game 3 of the 1977 World Series.
Tommy was 17-10 with a 3.30 ERA in 30 starts in 1978. John was named to the NL All Star team but he didn't pitch in the game. He pitched a 4-hit shutout in game 2 of the NLCS. John started and won game 1 of the 1978 World Series and he started game 4 but didn't get the decision. After the 1978 season John became a free agent and signed with the New York Yankees. The Pitcher with the Pinpoint Control - February 1978 Baseball Digest.
John pitched well for a Yankee team that was having a tough year. He finished the '79 season 21-9 with a 2.96 ERA. Tommy was named to the AL All Star team but didn't get into the game. John finished second to Mike Flanagan in AL Cy Young Award voting. Tommy John: The Pitcher with the Bionic Arm - September 1979 Baseball Digest.
Tommy had another good year in 1980. He went 22-9 with a 3.43 ERA and led the AL with 6 shutouts. John made the AL All Star team again but took the loss, allowing 3 runs in 2.1 innings. He started game 3 of the ALCS and allowed 2 runs in 6.2 innings but didn't get the decision.
In 1981 John went 9-8 with a 2.63 ERA in 20 starts. He was 0-1 in the ALDS and was 1-0 in the ALCS and in the World Series. Tommy started the 1982 season with the Yankees and was 10-10 on August 24 when he was traded to the California Angels for Dennis Rasmussen. Tommy went 4-2 for the Angels the rest of the way and helped them to an AL West title. John won game 1 of the ALCS but took the loss in game 4.
John turned 40 in 1983 and he started to have tougher seasons. Pitcher with the Bionic Arm Still Going Strong! - March 1983 Baseball Digest. He went 11-13 with a 4.33 ERA in 1983 and was 7-13 with a 4.52 ERA in 1984. In 1985 Tommy started the season with the Angels (2-4, 4.70 ERA) but was released on June 19. He signed with the Oakland A's on July 12 and was 2-6 with a 6.19 ERA.
Tommy became a free agent after the 1985 season but didn't sign with anyone. The Yankees finally signed him on May 2. He went 5-3 with a 2.93 ERA in 13 games (10 starts) in 1986. John had a pretty good season in 1987 (13-6, 4.03 ERA in 33 starts) and went 9-8 with a 4.49 ERA in 32 starts in 1988. Tommy didn't pitch well in 1989 (2-7, 5.80 ERA in 10 starts) and was released on May 30. That ended a 26-year career that was almost good enough for the Hall of Fame.
In 2009 John resigned from his job as manager of the independent Connecticut Bluefish due to financial issues to work as a "corporate manager" for a company in Texas. Tommy had been managing the Bluefish since 2006.
Liked to face: Lee May (.069 in 29 AB); Mario Mendoza (.077 in 27 AB); Tim Foli (.081 in 37 AB)
Hated to face: Ned Yost (.833 in 12 AB); Pat Tabler (.520 in 25 AB); George Mitterwald (.442 in 43 AB)