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Fans take to Facebook in bid to get former Watertown resident Tommy John into Baseball …

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If Tommy John is going to be elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame, the current social media effort by fans across the nation just might accomplish what no one else has been able to do.

John, born and raised in Terre Haute, Indiana, and a Watertown resident for more than three years, pitched on both coasts during his major league career, mainly for two of baseball’s most storied franchises, the Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Yankees.

Now, fans from Corona, Calif., to Watertown, N.Y., and everywhere in between, have orchestrated an all-out push, from endorsements by John’s former teammates and famed country singers to letters of petition to the Hall of Fame, that they hope ends with John’s election to the Hall when he becomes eligible again in late 2023.

John, now 78, and recovered from a hospital stay with COVID-19 in December, spent 1995-2009 on the Baseball Writers Association of America ballot with no more than 32 percent of the vote in any year (a player must appear on 75 percent of the ballots for election). The Veterans Committee passed him over in 2011, the Expansion Era Committee in 2014 and the Modern Baseball Era Committee in 2018 and again in 2019.

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All of this despite John, who also pitched for the White Sox, Indians, Angels and A’s, ranking as one of just eight pitchers all-time to make 700 starts and posting the most career victories without reaching the exclusive 300 (288).

“He’s achieved what other players have achieved that are in the Hall and it’s time to fix that,” said Ted Doyle, who grew up a Tommy John fan in California during the 1970s and created the Facebook group “Tommy John Cooperstown” last November. “What we’re doing with the Facebook group, the media campaign, the radio spots … it’s really just saying, ‘OK, Hall of Fame, please take note.’”

John, who lived in Watertown from 2011-15 after meeting his current wife, Watertown native Cheryl Zeldin John, played 26 seasons, more than all but two players, Nolan Ryan and Cap Anson. He pitched until age 46, won six World Series games and was runner-up for the Cy Young Award twice. But he never led the league in strikeouts, victories or earned-run average.

Some Hall evaluators believe that if John’s stats aren’t enough, the revolutionary ligament replacement surgery that he underwent in 1974 and now bears his name should be reason to place him in the Hall, given that it extended his career 13 seasons and also saved the careers of countless pitchers who have undergone the now commonplace operation.

John agreed to what was then an experimental surgery, performed by Dr. Frank Jobe, as the only hope for continuing his career. Jobe himself expected it to fail.

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“My (first) wife (Sally) was pregnant with our first child, which concerned Dr. Jobe,” John said. “He said, ‘If this doesn’t work, and it probably won’t, what do you have lined up to support your family?’” … I said, ‘Well, I have a friend of mine back home who was a car dealer, I can do stuff for him.’”

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After undergoing the surgery on both his left pitching elbow and his right forearm on Sept. 25, 1974, John didn’t pitch at all in 1975, then came back in 1976, starting 31 games for the Dodgers, going 10-10 and winning the National League Comeback Player of the Year Award. A year later, he was a 20-game winner for the first time in his career. He had amazed the baseball world.

Doyle, growing up not far from Los Angeles at the time, was enthralled.

“He was the guy,” said Doyle, 56. “If I had been left-handed, I would’ve emulated him. … I just loved how he approached the game. He was just a workhorse, got in and got it done and he was all about the team.”

Doyle, who lives in Corona, Calif., rekindled his interested in John again in 2020 when he returned to baseball card and memorabilia collecting, a hobby he knew as a boy. Doyle looked up John, who lives in nearby Indio (but is moving to Florida later this month), hoping to get an autograph and thinking he had reached John’s agent. But he had actually contacted Cheryl.

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“She said, ‘Tommy loves to see fans, why don’t you come out?’” Doyle said. “So my wife and I drove out to see them. … They invited us in and here I thought I was going to be in and out, get a signature, hi and bye. We were there for over an hour, it was the coolest experience. I’m sitting across from him, he’s telling baseball stories, he’s listening to me.”

Impressed, Doyle returned home and researched John’s career and couldn’t believe what he saw.

“After that experience I’m just thinking about it and I’m looking at his stats and it’s like, “good god, as a fan, I took it personal, I got angry,” Doyle said. “It was like, how is this guy not in the Hall of Fame?”

Less than a month after meeting John, Doyle created “Tommy John Cooperstown” and the campaign to publicize John’s Hall of Fame merits began on Dec. 3.

The page has grown steadily, to 724 members as of Saturday, and continues an aggressive effort that has included publicity from various Watertown media figures, as well as others with north country ties who are avid John fans.

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Bruce “Mac” Macfarlane lived in Clayton for nearly a dozen years after college and founded the Clayton Country Jam in 2011, which featured headlining country artists and tribute bands at the Clayton Opera House through 2016.

While Macfarlane was promoting the show at country music station Froggy 97 in Watertown in 2011, Tommy John, a country music fan, walked into the studio for a separate interview.

“He came in the door and I haven’t had a lot of people in my life where I get star-struck, but I did then,” Macfarlane, 67, said.

John then attended a Willie Nelson tribute concert in Clayton. Macfarlane, a Yankees fan, became friends with John on Facebook, and Macfarlane, who now lives in Vista, Calif., just visited John at his home last weekend.

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In the nine months of the Tommy John Cooperstown Facebook page, the former pitcher’s support staff has expanded to an eclectic group and features video endorsements of John’s career from country singers Tim McGraw and Toby Keith, former Yankees teammates Bucky Dent and Mickey Rivers, political figures Andrew Giuliani and Roger Williams, even former Happy Days actor Donny Most, who hopes to make a movie about John, and TV personality Kato Kaelin.

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“We’ve got a couple years to build this thing, so by the time it’s said and done, and it’s awesome right now … (it) will grow to geometric proportions,” Macfarlane said.

Doyle has talked to the Hall of Fame director of communications Craig Muder, trying to reach the ears of the Modern Baseball Committee, a 16-member group comprised of Hall of Fame members, executives and media who will vote in December 2023 to again determine John’s fate.

The push also includes a website, tommyjohncooperstown.org, a GoFundMe page to raise money for advertising, and a letter-writing campaign to the Hall’s Historical Overview Committee, urging John’s election.

Doyle, Macfarlane and others hope to generate more interest and Facebook group members this week as former Yankee Derek Jeter is inducted into the Hall of Fame on Wednesday in Cooperstown. John’s eight-year tenure with the Yankees was longer than with any other team.

The question of whether the social-media effort is enough to draw the attention of knowledgeable Hall committee members could be answered by Billy Powell, a Houston resident, who helped Doyle start the Facebook group.

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Powell runs the Facebook page “Baseball Nostalgia and Now,” which boasts 7,600 members, as well as a couple of Indiana basketball pages with thousands more followers. Powell, an Indiana native like Tommy John, has seen what Facebook promotion can do for an athlete.

“I know of seven people who have made it into the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame based on (the Indiana Hoosier) page,” said Powell, who also advocated for John’s induction into the Baseball Hall.

John, for his part, stays away from Hall of Fame talk, shrugging off questions with some advice his father told him 60 years ago.

“When I signed to play baseball at the age of 18 (in) 1961, he said, ‘Tom, no matter what you do in baseball, if you play for 20 years, you play for 20 days, all you’ll be is Tommy John from Terre Haute, Indiana,” said John, whose Hall of Fame bid has now lasted as many years as his entire MLB career. “… I can’t control Hall of Fame voting so I don’t worry about it. If I could control it and I couldn’t get in, then I’d be miserable.”

But John doesn’t hesitate to talk about his pitching ability, which ultimately produced his Hall qualifications. John says Pete Rose named him one of the three toughest pitchers he ever faced. He also tells the story of when he was a broadcaster for the Minnesota Twins in the 1990s and the team was playing in Milwaukee.

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Hank Aaron was in town and the Twins broadcast booth wanted Aaron to visit and answer a few questions. Aaron arrived and John’s broadcasting partner Dick Bremer fired questions at The Hammer, asking him to name the toughest pitcher he ever faced. Was it Gibson, Koufax or Drysdale?

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“And (Aaron) said, ‘you know (Milwaukee broadcaster Bob) Uecker asked me the same question and I’ll tell you the same answer,’” John recounted. “(It’s) that S.O.B sitting next to you.’

“Hank Aaron said I never gave him a pitch that he could pull,” John added.

Whether the Hall Committee listens to those former players or the fans who point out John’s record 188 career no-decisions that kept him from 300 wins, is something that will play out two years from now, when John will be 80.

“We know we’re not the ones that are going to vote here,” Doyle said. “But if we can bring that awareness that, hey Hall of Fame, the fans love Tommy John, it’s time that you fix a wrong here and put him in.”

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TOMMY JOHN STATS

MLB career: 1963-89

Career length: 26 seasons (2nd all-time)

Career starts: 700 (8th all-time)

Career win-loss record: 288-231

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Career strikeouts: 2,245

Career ERA: 3.34

Season highs: 276.1 IP (1979); 22 Wins (1980); 138 SOs (1966/1970); 6 SHO* (1967/1980); 1.98 ERA (1968)

* – led league each year

TOMMY JOHN ON:

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HIS PITCHING REPERTOIRE: “I threw a fastball and a curveball,” he said. “If I threw a 100 pitches in a ballgame and I had good stuff, I threw 85 fastballs at least … I threw in the upper 80s, mid 80s, lower 80s. I went up an down. I wanted movement and I wanted control. … Like Greg Maddux.”

HIS WORKHORSE REPUTATION: “After surgery, I pitched 13 years, never missed a start,” he said, “and I pitched out of the bullpen between starts, so how about that? With a surgically repaired elbow. My god, now, you’ve got 57 pitches, you’re done.”

TODAY’S GAME: “I don’t even watch baseball anymore,” he said. “It’s not the game I played.”

MOST DIFFICULT BATTER TO GET OUT: Ken Griffey Sr.

HIS TEAMMATES: John said the teammates he enjoyed the most were Gary Peters and Joe Horlen (White Sox), Reggie Smith, Dusty Baker and Rick Rhoden (Dodgers) and Don Mattingly, Thurman Munson, Graig Nettles, Willie Randolph and Roy White (Yankees). But he said he considered them co-workers, not friends. “My friends did not play baseball,” he said. “They were neighbors, we went to church with them or had dinner with them and all that.”

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COMING BACK TO WATERTOWN: Tommy John and his wife Cheryl will return to Watertown for an appearance at a fundraising effort by Republican candidate for New York State governor Andrew Giuliani. The event is scheduled for 7 p.m. Sept. 26 at the Elks Club.

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Facebook Messenger Is Launching a Split Payments Feature for Users to Quickly Share Expenses

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Facebook Messenger Is Launching a Split Payments Feature for Users to Quickly Share Expenses

Meta has announced the arrival of a new Split Payments feature in Facebook Messenger. This feature, as the name suggests, will let you calculate and split expenses with others right from Facebook Messenger. This feature essentially looks to bring an easier method to share the cost of bills and expenses — for example, splitting a dinner bill with friends. Using this new Split Payment feature, Facebook Messenger users will be able to split bills evenly or modify the contribution for each individual, including their own.

The company took to its blog post to announce the new Split Payment feature in Facebook Messenger. 9to5Mac reports that this new bill splitting feature is still in beta and will be exclusive to US users at first. The rollout will begin early next week. As mentioned, it will help users share the cost of bills, expenses, and payments. This feature is especially useful for those who share an apartment and need to split the monthly rent and other expenses with their mates. It could also come handy at a group dinner with many people.

With Split Payments, users can add the number of people the expense needs to be divided with and, by default, the amount entered will be divided in equal parts. A user can also modify each person’s contribution including their own. To use Split Payments, click the Get Started button in a group chat or the Payments Hub in Messenger. Users can modify the contribution in the Split Payments option and send a notification to all the users who need to make payments. After entering a personalised message and confirming your Facebook Pay details, the request will be sent and viewable in the group chat thread.

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Once someone has made the payment, you can mark their transaction as ‘completed’. The Split Payment feature will automatically take into account your share as well and calculate the amount owed accordingly.


For the latest tech news and reviews, follow Gadgets 360 on Twitter, Facebook, and Google News. For the latest videos on gadgets and tech, subscribe to our YouTube channel.

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Tasneem Akolawala is a Senior Reporter for Gadgets 360. Her reporting expertise encompasses smartphones, wearables, apps, social media, and the overall tech industry. She reports out of Mumbai, and also writes about the ups and downs in the Indian telecom sector. Tasneem can be reached on Twitter at @MuteRiot, and leads, tips, and releases can be sent to tasneema@ndtv.com.

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Facebook Owner Meta Launches New Platform, Safety Hub to Protect Women in India

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Meta (formerly Facebook) on Thursday announced a slew of steps to protect woman users on its platform, including the launch of StopNCII.org in India that aims to combat the spread of non-consensual intimate images (NCII).

Meta has also launched the Women’s Safety Hub, which will be available in Hindi and 11 other Indian languages, that will enable more women users in India to access information about tools and resources that can help them make the most of their social media experience, while staying safe online.

This initiative by Meta will ensure women do not face a language barrier in accessing information Karuna Nain, director (global safety policy) at Meta Platforms, told reporters here.

“Safety is an integral part of Meta’s commitment to building and offering a safe online experience across the platforms and over the years the company has introduced several industry leading initiatives to protect users online.

“Furthering our effort to bolster the safety of users, we are bringing in a number of initiatives to ensure online safety of women on our platforms,” she added.

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StopNCII.org is a platform that aims to combat the spread of non-consensual intimate images (NCII).

“It gives victims control. People can come to this platform proactively, hash their intimate videos and images, share their hashes back with the platform and participating companies,” Nain said.

She explained that the platform doesn’t receive any photos and videos, and instead what they get is the hash or unique digital fingerprint/unique identifier that tells the company that this is a known piece of content that is violating. “We can proactively keep a lookout for that content on our platforms and once it”s uploaded, our review team check what”s really going on and take appropriate action if it violates our policies,” she added.

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In partnership with UK Revenge Porn Helpline, StopNCII.org builds on Meta’s NCII Pilot, an emergency programme that allows potential victims to proactively hash their intimate images so they can”t be proliferated on its platforms.

The first-of-its-kind platform, has partnered with global organisations to support the victims of NCII. In India, the platform has partnered with organisations such as Social Media Matters, Centre for Social Research, and Red Dot Foundation.

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Nain added that the company is hopeful that this becomes an industrywide initiative, so that victims can just come to this one central place to get help and support and not have to go to each and every tech platform, one by one to get help and support.

Also, Bishakha Datta (executive editor of Point of View) and Jyoti Vadehra from Centre for Social Research are the first Indian members in Meta”s Global Women”s Safety Expert Advisors. The group comprises 12 other non-profit leaders, activists, and academic experts from different parts of the world and consults Meta in the development of new policies, products and programmes to better support women on its apps.

“We are confident that with our ever-growing safety measures, women will be able to enjoy a social experience which will enable them to learn, engage and grow without any challenges.

“India is an important market for us and bringing Bishakha and Jyoti onboard to our Women”s Safety Expert Advisory Group will go a long way in further enhancing our efforts to make our platforms safer for women in India,” Nain said.

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Facebook Adds New Trend Insights in Creator Studio, Which Could Help Shape Your Posting Strategy

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Facebook’s looking to provide more content insight within Creator Studio with the rollout of a new ‘Inspiration Hub’ element, which highlights trending content and hashtags within categories related to your business Page.

Facebook Inspiration Hub

As you can see in these screenshots, posted by social media expert Matt Navarra, when it becomes available to you, you’ll be able to access the new Inspiration Hub from the Home tab in Creator Studio.

At the right side of the screen, you can see the first of the new insights, with trending hashtags and videos from the last 24 hours, posted by Pages similar to yours, displayed above a ‘See more’ prompt.

When you tap through to the new hub, you’ll have a range of additional filters to check out trending content from across Facebook, including Page category, content type, region, and more.

Facebook Inspiration Hub

That could be hugely valuable in learning what Facebook users are responding to, and what people within your target market are engaging with in the app.

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The Hub also includes insights into trending hashtags, within your chosen timeframe, which may further assist in tapping into trending discussions.

Facebook Inspiration Hub

How valuable hashtags are on Facebook is still up for debate, but you’ll also note that you can filter the displayed results by platform, so you can additionally display Instagram hashtag trends as well, which could be very valuable in maximizing your reach.

Much of this type of info has been available within CrowdTangle, Facebook’s analytics platform for journalists, for some time, but not everyone can access CrowdTangle data, which could make this an even more valuable proposition for many marketers.

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Of course, overall performance really relates to your own creative, and thinking through the action that you want your audience to take when reading your posts. But in terms of detecting new content trends, including hashtag usage, caption length, videos versus image posts, and more, there’s a lot that could be gleaned from these tools and filters.

It’s a significant analytics addition – we’ve asked Facebook for more info on the rollout of the new option, and whether it’s already beyond test mode, etc. We’ll update this post if/when we hear back.

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