What do Babe Ruth, Mike Schmidt, and Drs. James Andrews and Frank Jobe have in common? They are all Hall of Fame worthy.
Last September, columnist Will Carroll wrote a columnabout how the infamous Dr. James Andrews deserves a spot in the baseball Hall of Fame.His article was pretty convincing, seeing as 2,500 of his 40,000 + surgeries were Tommy John surgeries at a success rate of 90%.
Dr. Andrews hasperformed surgery on the likes of Roger Clemens, John Smoltz, Andy Pettite,Kerry Wood, David Wells, AJ Burnett, and Jon Lieber, and can, to an extent, becredited for reviving and extending their careers. When players need to see thebest in the biz, Andrews gets the call. So, this begs the question: Shouldphysicians have a wing in baseball’s coveted Hall of Fame? In my opinion, yes.
The Hall of Fame has done a good job of including non-playerswho have had a lasting impact on the game to be included in the fraternity. For instance, the J.G. Taylor Spink Award,which is named after the late editor of , honors a baseball writer (or writers) “for meritoriouscontributions to baseball writing.” This list includes notable baseball writerssuch as Bob Hunter, Phil Collier, and Peter Gammons. Along the same lines, the Ford C. Frick Award,named after the late broadcaster, is presented annually to a broadcaster for“major contributions to baseball.” Former recipients of this award have gone toJack Buck, Harry Kalas, and former player Bob Uecker.
Recipients of these honors are recognized in the “Scribes& Mikemen” exhibit of the Hall of Fame, and are presented with a certificateduring the players’ and managers’ Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony. So ifwriters and broadcasters can be credited for their contributions to the game inthe form of the written and spoken word, why shouldn’t physicians be recognizedfor their contributions in the form of rebuilding the game’s players? Thesimple answer is that they should be.
My only qualm with the J.G. Taylor Spink and Ford C. Frickawards are that they are given annually. I think the problem with presentingthe award on a predetermined, regular basis is that it waters down the quality.Considering that there have been years where no player has been able to receivethe necessary 75% of the votes to be inducted (1950, 1958, 1960), it doesn’tmake sense that one writer and broadcaster should be given the honor each andevery year. Just as the players and managers rely on statistical 75%, allnon-players should be held to some form of vote as well. But I digress.
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In any case, the fact that those two awards exist lead me tobelieve that physicians deserve just as much recognition. Take, for instance,Dr. Frank Jobe, who invented Tommy John surgery and paved the way for doctorslike Andrews. Or Dr. Joseph B. Chandler, author of ,which brought some much needed attention to what young pitchers should andshould not be doing when it comes to potentially dangerous acts like throwing acurveball before their body has fully developed. There are many other examplesof doctors who have influenced the game by developing important surgicalprocedures of immeasurable importance to players, or who have uncoveredimportant data which could prevent these surgeries from even taking place. It's time they got some recognition for their influential, and necessary, contributions to baseball.