The Tommy John Interview: Part 1
- Updated: October 6, 2009
Tommy John and A Glove of Their Own
I recently interviewed former MLB pitcher Tommy John, for those of you who have been under a rock for the past 30 years, Tommy had played 26 seasons, accumulating 288 wins with a 3.34 ERA and over 2200 strikeouts. He played for 6 Major League Teams, including the Yankees twice. By the way, they named a surgical procedure after him, too.
I started off the conversation talking about how he became affiliated with the increasingly popular children’s book, “A Glove of Their Own”. Part one of this (correction) three part interview with Tommy John will highlight his involvement with it. At the end of the interview will be an embedded MP3 player where you can listen to our conversation in its entirety.
So I asked Tommy which came first, the chicken or the egg, or in this case, “A Glove of Their Own”, the popular children’s book, or his meeting Bob Salomon? He replied, “Well, the chicken came first. There would be no AGOTO if there was no Bob Salomon. But the book came first and then Bob got involved with it and we just hooked up one time and started talking and he asked me if I would help him with this and get some things started and going. It sounded like a good idea to me.”
But, before he met Bob he stated that in actuality, “the guy that got involved with me was one of my pitchers that I had at Bridgeport named Garrett Berger. Garrett was a first round pick for the Marlins in about 2000, I believe, and ended up having to have Tommy John surgery and was out of baseball, and I ended up picking him up for my independent league team in 2007. He has a company called ifungo.com where he sells sporting equipment over the internet and that’s where he emailed me and asked me. He said it’s really a good project, it’s baseball oriented, the monies go to charity, and I know Garrett very well, so if he says it’s a good organization (then it is).”
He speaks of how Garrett then introduced him to Bob Saloman and “found out that he’s just (the) salt of the earth. He (Bob)really is passionate about what he’s involved in. And, you know, when you read the book, it’s kind of like the baseball book of Dr. Seuss, where it’s all in rhyme, it’s about paying it forward, you know? Doing things for people and having people do things for other people and before you know it, you’ve got a lot of people doing a lot of things for a lot of people.”
Tommy then speaks about how Bob has been promoting the book.
“ Bob’s gone out and he’s gotten a lot of ex ball players and managers and coaches, and I think he just got Bernie Williams to come on board.”
When asked what he and Bob are specifically doing to promote AGOTO and this is what he had to say, “You know, all we can do is let people know what’s out there. We’re kind of like the catalyst, going around with the signs, like the guy behind home plate all the time, holding up the sign John 3:16, you know? Well, we’re that. We’re holding up AGOTO and if you go online, the thing that I like about it is 1. It’s involved with baseball, and baseball is my passion and my love and it’s all the things that I enjoy doing. If you buy the book online, you can go and pick out whatever charity you want $3.30 to go to.”
Tommy then explained that “$3.30 of every book sale goes to charity.” And that the charity he is a strong supporter for “happens to be ALS because of Catfish Hunter.” He and Catfish use to pitch for the Yankees back in 1979.
He later states that they do a lot of “word of mouth” to help promote AGOTO, “that’s what Bob Solomon does. He goes out and contacts people who contact people who contact people. It’s the same thing: paying it forward with word of mouth.”
I asked Tommy if he was given an advanced copy of the story or if it was just told to him in a conversation he had with either Garrett or Bob he told me that he “did a book signing in Somerset, NJ” and “it was the first time I saw the book. I met a couple of the authors, and it was fun. I enjoyed doing it, and I told Bob I would do whatever I can to promote the book and make sure that the people out there got a chance to see what it is and what’s there and how good it is.” He said that aside from the book signing he has also done “about 30 phone interviews for Bob Solomon and the book.”
Then I asked what Tommy sees as the goal of the book and what he hopes to accomplish by having his popular name attached to promoting it.
“Well, one, to get kids involved in baseball and in helping other people out, maybe not in baseball. That’s that the idea of paying it forward is about. And the other thing is the charitable aspect. Getting money to charity and helping people that are less fortunate than ourselves.”
I then asked him if he could explain the concept of “paying it forward” a little further?
“Well, if you’ve ever seen the movie Pay it Forward, where the little boy does one good deed and that deed to that person then becomes another deed to another person and then to another person. Then it’s two and then four and then it’s 16 and it’s 32 and it just keeps going and it just goes all over. I think the show was shot in Las Vegas and it was really a good show and the little boy ended up getting killed and the final scene was the mother and her boyfriend went out and here were all these people with candles, thousands of them, coming forward to pay their respects to the boy who started paying it forward. You know, if someone does something for someone else, and then that person does it for two people and those two do it for two more people and all of a sudden, you’ve got a whole bunch of people out there doing good deeds for other people.”
When asked if he had AGOTO story from his past that he could share with our readers, but he said, “You know, I don’t. It’s about little kids playing ball and not having the equipment, and a guy comes by and makes sure that they have equipment. You know, growing up, I didn’t grow up in an affluent family by any stretch of the imagination, the most money my dad ever made was $4.65 an hour, and that was right when he was retiring when I was out of the house. So you can see. . . but I had every piece of sporting equipment I could ever want: baseball gloves, basketball, and you know, that’s what I did, and that was the great love of our lives back then: sports.”