Posts Tagged ‘The Tommy John World We Live In’

The Tommy John World We Live In

May 17, 2018



“When they operated, I told them to add in a Koufax fastball.

They did, but unfortunately it was Mrs. Koufax’s.”

– Tommy John, N.Y. Yankees, recalling his 1974 arm surgery


Can you imagine what it must have been like for Tommy John? Or still may be? He went into baseball as a pretty fair pitching prospect, but a common career-ending injury to his arm transported him to a medical doctor who performed a radical surgery on John that not only saved his place as an MLB pitcher for a while longer, It also forever set up his name — “Tommy John” — to become more the identity of this particular surgery than it ever was as the name of the first pitcher who saved his career because of it.

When we hear today that arm injury to a current big league pitcher is going to cause him to miss the rest of this season and possibly most or all of next year because of “Tommy John”, we all know what that means. There is no time wasted blaming the former pitcher named “Tommy John” for the ballplayer’s bad news.

“Tommy John” is surgery first — a ballplayer barely. But it works in our minds and that’s apparently what counts.

At any rate, the “Tommy John” human expression of humor, about coming back to the game with the fastball speed of “Mrs. Koufax”, did pull me back to all the other human beings who have lost their identities to other matters in life, and we’re not talking anything possible in a single column. It would require more of a book, or a book series, to cover all the streets, airports, and cities in America alone that take their identities directly from adopted or applied human names.

JFK and LaGuardia airports in NYC are great examples. But how about the City of Houston?

Texas History teaches us that Texan Army General Sam Houston won the Battle of San Jacinto in eighteen minutes over General Santa Anna and the Mexican Army on April 21, 1836 at a site just east of present day Pasadena. Today that win is celebrated as Texas Independence Day.

The Irony of San Jacinto probably is the fact that the previously described battle was both the first and last time that anyone got anything done anywhere near “Houston” in eighteen minutes. Today, in 2018, I can’t even drive from home to my office in eighteen minutes, — and I live only five miles away.

Houston street names are often the result of names put forth by elected officials who just happened to think of a name from their own histories that was different enough to stand out among the other nearby street names. Gessner Road on the west side, for example, was a name supplied decades ago when that north-south passage was little more than a two-lane passage through a still fairly agricultural part of the county and not the “new downtown” Houston it is becoming.

Harris County Commissioner Squatty Lyons suggested “Gessner” when he recalled having a classmate by that name at then Reagan High School years earlier. There was no other distinguishing reason beyond the fact that Lyons remembered the name and that it fit the name distinction needs during a year in which that sort of thing was declared as important.

We do have a baseball byway in Houston. The Nolan Ryan Expressway, a north-south artery on the southeast side of town, has proved an apt name for the several miles long section of State Highway 288 that runs near to Minute Maid Park, the home of the Houston Astros, but it certainly hasn’t “Tommy Johned” the old Alvin Strikeout King’s primary ownership of that identity.

Personally, I would like to see the Katy Freeway, from downtown Columbus, Texas, given back its local bullet train parallel track, – all the way to downtown Houston with three strategic stops along the way in Sealy, Katy, and Gessner for passengers prepared to travel at bullet-train speed over short distances. Call it the Larry Dierker49Fastball Line and make it so workable that consumers will reference themselves as being Dierkered to the office for a special meeting with the boss.”

Then just watch the suburbs between here and Columbus continue to grow at an even faster rate.

Along those same lines —

Maybe, if they can get sign-off approval from former Astros great Jimmy Wynn, they could christen that bullet train’s Houston to Dallas ride as The Toy Cannon. Sounds pretty strong and fast to me. What do you think? Of course, if we could get the Dallas people to sign off on the other side, this would be a great place for a railed extension of The Nolan Ryan Expressway as the north to south version of the trip. After all, Nolie and Son did sort of come back to Houston when all was said and done. Did they not?

Lou Gehrig’s Disease comes to mind far easier for what it is in reality. We doubt that many people know it’s scientific name, — or likely would there be many of us shouting out the answer to this question: “What is a more common name for a disease catalogued as “Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis”?

That’s it for now from our side, but we would love your help in further Tommy Johning the world with the individual name identities that are more associated with the action or event itself than the formal name that goes with whatever it may have been called in scientific or legal language.

Have a hope-floating night, Astro friends, as we slide toward the weekend home series with the Indians. If we could simply “Justin Verlander” all our Astro starters into pitching the kind of game that the original “JV” threw against the Angels on the wings of a 2-0 complete game shutout on Wednesday night —  and get the same results — where do you suppose we might be this coming November 1st?


Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle