Dr. Frank Jobe

1 minute read

The medical innovation that has salvaged the greatest number of baseball careers over the past four decades is not a new pill or injection, not a piece of equipment. It is a surgical graft procedure known as Tommy John surgery, and the man who invented it was Dr. Frank Jobe.

In 1974, when the Los Angeles Dodgers’ ace Tommy John tore an elbow ligament in his pitching arm, Jobe, a Dodgers team doctor, performed the first-ever ulnar collateral ligament reconstruction. The surgery allowed John to win 164 more games during the final 14 years of his career. Jobe, who died on March 6 at 88, had turned what was once a career-ending injury into an unfortunate hiccup for some of baseball’s most talented pitchers. The only strike against Jobe’s procedure is that it came too late for some. Over the years, when Jobe would run into Sandy Koufax at spring training, the Hall of Famer would ask, “Why didn’t you do that on me?”


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