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AP marks 50th anniversary of Tommy John surgery with all-formats package

Dr. Frank Jobe, right, known for the development of the historic elbow procedure known as “Tommy John Surgery,” speaks as he and Tommy John, left, are honored during a ceremony at Doubleday Field at the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y., July 27, 2013. AP PHOTO / MIKE GROLL

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Sportswriters Jay Cohen, Ron Blum, Janie McCauley and David Brandt marked the 50th anniversary of Tommy John surgery on the baseball world with an all-formats package that looked at the past, present and future of the surgery and its impact on thousands of players and even teenagers who have gone through it, uncovering surprising details.

AP writers utilized spring training to gather an array of perspectives — pitchers with revived careers, surgeons who have operated on thousands of elbows, baseball lifers who have seen Tommy John surgery grow from an oddity to as much a part of baseball as peanuts and Cracker Jacks. The resulting package included background on how Tommy John surgery came to be, where it’s going, the angst that comes with its recovery, a rise in teenage pitchers needing the operation and an exclusive with the doctor who repaired Shohei Ohtani’s elbow that included previously unreported details about Ohtani’s hybrid procedure.

The package didn’t just explain the operation and its impact to casual fans, but uncovered details that surprised even veteran baseball journalists — like Dr. Frank Jobe’s instrumental background performing tendon transfers on polio patients. The team also put together eye-catching visuals and a social video explainer featuring graphics showing how the operation works. Those helped with promotion across AP platforms.

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