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Tommy John (left) with innovative Dr. Frank Jobe (right)

Pioneer of Tommy John Surgery Passes Away

Tommy John (left) with innovative Dr. Frank Jobe (right)
Tommy John (left) with innovative Dr. Frank Jobe (right)

Frank Jobe, the first surgeon to perform the innovative Tommy John surgery passed away Thursday evening at the age of 88.

Jobe worked as the Dodgers team physician for 40 years and an additional 10 as a special adviser to the chairman of the Dodgers organization. He is best known for performing the first ever unlar collateral ligament reconstructive elbow surgery (now known as Tommy John surgery) on left handed pitcher Tommy John on September 25, 1974. It was a last ditch effort to save his career and at the time of the surgery, Dr. Jobe put John’s chances of returning to baseball at 1 in 100. After the surgery John would go on to pitch 14 more seasons winning 164 games.

The ground breaking surgery changed the sport and has extended the careers of countless pitchers. Jobe was honored in Cooperstown last July for the innovative surgery, but many have argued that he belongs in the Hall of Fame. It’s hard to think of many people who have had a bigger impact on the game of baseball.

Dodgers president Stan Kasten said of the late doctor, “Frank Jobe is a Hall of Famer in every sense of the word. His dedication and professionalism in not only helping the Dodgers, but athletes around the world is unparalleled. He was a medical giant and pioneer and many athletes in the past and the future can always thank Frank for finding a way to continue their careers.”

MLB commissioner Bud Selig also released a statement on Jobe. “I was deeply saddened to learn of the loss of Dr. Frank Jobe, a great gentleman whose work in Baseball revolutionized sports medicine. Since 1974, his groundbreaking Tommy John surgery has revitalized countless careers, especially those of our pitchers. His wisdom elevated not only the Dodgers, the franchise he served proudly for a half-century, but all of our Clubs.”

“Dr. Jobe’s expertise, as well as his enthusiasm to mentor his peers, made the National Pastime stronger. On behalf of Major League Baseball, I extend my deepest condolences to Dr. Jobe’s family, friends, Dodger colleagues and the many admirers of his pioneering spirit throughout our game.”

He co-founded the Kerlan-Jobe Orthopaedic Clinic in 1965 with Dr. Robert Kerlan. They supervised the medical treatment of the Dodgers, the then LA Rams, Lakers, Angels, Kings and Anaheim Ducks.

Tommy John called Dr. Jobe a great friend and great surgeon. “The most amazing stat was I never missed a start in 13 years post-surgery.”