Hall of Famer Comes Out Against Early Specialization
This came to me courtesy of James Leath (@jamesleath www.jamesleath.com ) but, the text is from the Hall of Fame induction speech of John Smoltz . Imagine how important John Smoltz thinks this is if he included it in the limited amount of time available to him at Cooperstown.
“Before I hand it over to the next inductee, I’d be remiss if I did not talk about Tommy John. I’ve been given an opportunity as one of the only players, the only one right now, to be inducted into the Hall of Fame with Tommy John surgery. It’s an epidemic. It’s something that is affecting our game. It’s something that I thought would cost me my career, but thanks to Dr. James Andrews and all those before him, performing the surgery with such precision has caused it to be almost a false read, like a Band‑Aid you put on your arm.
I want to encourage the families and parents that are out there to understand that this is not normal to have a surgery at 14 and 15 years old, that you have time, that baseball’s not a year‑round sport, that you have an opportunity to be athletic and play other sports.
Don’t let the institutions that are out there running before you guaranteeing scholarship dollars and signing bonuses (tell you) that this is the way. We have such great, dynamic arms in our game that it’s a shame that we’re having one and two and three Tommy John recipients. So I want to encourage you if nothing else, know that your children’s passion and desire to play baseball is something that they can do without a competitive pitch. Every throw a kid makes today is a competitive pitch. They don’t go outside; they don’t have fun; they don’t throw enough. But they’re competing and maxing out too hard, too early, and that’s why we’re having these problems. So please, take care of those great future arms.”