March 8, 2014, 2:44 am
Dr. Frank Jobe, the man who invented Tommy John surgery, passed away yesterday at the age of 88. A cause of death has not been released.
Jobe made medical history in 1974 when he removed a tendon from the right elbow of Dodgers pitcher Tommy John and placed it in his left elbow. Prior to this procedure, if a pitcher tore his UCL then his career was effectively over. After the surgery, John was even better than he had been before. John had three 20 win seasons, was named to three All-Star teams and pitched 14 more seasons in the bigs retiring at the age of 46. On the 13th anniversary of his surgery, John joked that he was celebrating his new arm’s Bar Mitzvah.
Scores of pitchers in the major, minor, and the collegiate ranks have successfully undergone Tommy John surgery. Dr. Jobe also made innovations in rotator cuff surgery as well as developing regimens to prevent arm surgery. Some believe that Dr. Jobe’s contributions to baseball warrant inclusion in the Baseball Hall of Fame. Although Jobe does not have a plaque at Cooperstown, both he and Tommy John were honored during Hall of Fame Weekend in 2013.