Just getting caught up with the Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremony from yesterday. Talk about four deserving players, and talk about getting old…I can remember almost the entire playing careers of Craig Biggio, Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, and John Smoltz. However, the following excerpt from Smoltz’s induction speech about Tommy John surgery and young baseball players really struck me.
“Before I hand it over to 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 that this is not normal to have a surgery at 14 and 15 years old. That you have time, that baseball is 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 that this is the way….
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. Please, take care of those great future arms.”
I could not have said that any better myself. Parents need to adhere to these warnings. Smoltz knows what he is talking about, yet every day, parents continue to push their kids beyond what is considered “normal” wear and tear for athletes their age. I’ve said it before, parents need to let kids be kids and let the chips fall as they may…parents need to stop living their lives vicariously through their children! College scholarships are few and far between and the idea of actually making it to the Major Leagues is like hitting the lottery. So parents, please start listening to Smoltz’s advice and let’s put this epidemic to an end.