Tommy John Surgery Pioneer Dr. Jobe Passes Away

dr. jobe

On Friday, the Los Angeles Dodgers announced that famed orthopedic surgeon Dr. Frank Jobe passed away at the age of 88.

Jobe’s experimental surgery to fix a pitcher’s elbow was one of the biggest medical breakthroughs in sports and one that changed baseball forever. 

It was in 1974 when Jobe transplanted a tendon to replace the torn ulnar collateral ligament of Dodgers lefty Tommy John in a surgical procedure that would bear his name forever.

John would go on to pitch for another 14 years and become the first of thousands of athletes who would have their careers prolonged thanks to Dr. Jobe. 

Jobe taught Tommy John surgery to hundreds of orthopedic surgeons all over the world, and many of the ballplayers who had the procedure returned just as good or better than they were before suffering the injury.

Dr. Jobe was also a war hero. While serving as an army medic in World War II, he was captured by the Nazis at Bastogne, but would later escape from his captors. He was awarded the Bronze Star for heroism in battle.

Over the year, many players, coaches and executives have urged MLB to have Jobe enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, but it hasn’t happened yet.

“Frank Jobe is a Hall of Famer in every sense of the word,” said Dodger President Stan Kasten. “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.”

Both Matt Harvey and Jeremy Hefner have undergone the procedure and are currently on track to return late this season or at the start of the 2015 season.

There’s a wonderful obituary today in the New York Times that does a nice job of honoring Jobe and portraying the many achievements of this truly remarkable pioneer. Rest in peace.

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