Oct 14, 2014

The Second Pitcher To Have Sucessful "Tommy John Surgery": Brent Strom (1972)

Brent Terry Strom was born October 14, 1948 at San Diego, California. The tall six foot two left hander had a devastating curveball, and was a star pitcher at USC leading the Trojans to two NCAA championships. He was drafted twice but didn’t sign until 1970, when he was selected in the first round by the New York Mets.

He was highly touted as a good strikeout pitcher making his way through the minors first at A ball Visalia.

In 1971 Strom went 7-3 at AA Memphis, striking out 87 batters in 106 innings of work. He then got promoted to AAA Tidewater where he impressed again, going 6-2 with a 2.55 ERA & 60 strike outs in 74 innings. He was brought up to the Mets on July 31, 1972, making a start against the Montreal Expos.

In his debut he allowed two runs on two hits, striking out seven pitching into the 7th inning, but earned no decision in the Mets 4-2 win. He went back to Tidewater & returned three weeks later. He made two starts at the end of July, but they didn't go well as he allowed more than three runs each time, taking the losses.

In September he settled into the bull pen after two more bad starts where he did not get out of the second inning. Overall in 1972 Strom appeared in ten games total (five starts) going 0-3 with a 6.82 ERA. He allowed 23 earned runs, & seven HRs in 30 innings pitched.

He became expendable on a talented Mets pitching staff & a deep minor league pitching farm. He found himself shipped off to the Cleveland Indians for an established veteran reliever, Phil Hennigan.

In Cleveland in 1973, Strom was 2-10 with a 4.61 ERA pitching on the same staff as Hall of Famer Gaylord Perry. In 1974 Strom had a torn ligament in his elbow & became the second patient to Dr. Frank Jobe replacing the ligament with a tendon from else where in the body. The surgery is now known as Tommy John surgery, since he was the first to have it done & make a successful return. John pitched until he was 46.

After missing the 1974 season he was sent to his home town to pitch for the San Diego Padres in exchange for pitcher Steve Arlin. Strom made his successful comeback after being the second patient to have Tommy John surgery on June 15th 1975, pitching against his old Mets team mates at Shea Stadium.

He was incredible pitching eight innings, allowing just one run but took the loss to Tom Seaver who pitched a shut out. Strom  improved to a .500 record on the year, going 8-8 with the ’75 Padres, posting an impressive 2.54 ERA.

In 1976 he was a 12 game winner but lost 16 (3rd most in the NL). He was also second in the league throwing 13 wild pitches, while tossing over 210 innings pitched. In 1977 he had elbow problems going 0-2, including being the losing pitcher of record in an outing where the Padres lost to the Chicago Cubs 23-6. He was released the next spring and toiled in the minors through 1981.

In his five season career he is 22-39 with 278 strikeouts, 180 walks, in 501 innings pitched. Strom pitched in 100 games making 75 starts tossing three shut outs with 16 complete games.

Retirement: After his playing days, he coached the Houston Astros & Kansas City Royals. He then served as a roving coach with the Montreal Expos/ Washington Nationals, & most recently with the St. Louis Cardinals.

In 2009 he also coached the Chinese National team in the WBC.

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