It was 40 years ago yesterday …

On Sept. 25, 1974, Dr. Frank Jobe performed a groundbreaking surgery to replace a torn ligament in Los Angeles Dodgers LHP Tommy John’s left elbow with a tendon from the pitcher’s right forearm — the first “Tommy John surgery,” which the procedure is commonly known as today. The surgery allowed John to pitch for 14 more seasons.

I mention this here because John pitched in the Midwest League before and after his famous surgery — both times for teams based in cities that are no longer part of the league.

John’s first season as a professional ballplayer was spent in the Midwest League. As a Cleveland Indians farmhand, he went 10-4 with a 3.17 ERA in 88 IP for the 1961 Dubuque Packers. According to this article, his first professional game was canceled because fish flies covered the Dubuque stadium lights.

He made one more appearance in the Midwest League, 24 years later. He made a six-inning start for the 1985 Madison Muskies, giving up two runs on four hits and four walks while striking out three batters.

(See the box score from John’s Muskies start here.)

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