It’s such an understatement, but without Dr. Frank Jobe…a lot of baseball players would have left the game long before they were able to make the decision on their own.
Jobe, a pioneer in sports medicine, died Thursday in Santa Monica. He was 88.
"Baseball lost a great man and Tommy John lost a great friend," said pitching great Tommy John. "There are a lot of pitchers in baseball who should celebrate his life and what he did for the game of baseball. My deepest condolences and prayers go out to Beverly and the entire family. He's going to be missed."
Already an accomplished orthopedic surgeon, Jobe made medical history in 1974 when performed what is now called “Tommy John surgery”. Previous to his experiment on John, a pitcher with a ruptured medial collateral ligament in his elbow had, pretty much, no chance at returning to baseball. Thanks to Jobe, John, who had won 124 games prior, went on to pitch 14 years more season and won 164 more games after his surgery.
In the 40 years since the first surgery, countless pitchers (including, most notably, John Smoltz, Adam Wainwright, Tim Hudson, Chris Carpenter and Brian Wilson) underwent the procedure.
Los Angeles Angels pitcher C.J. Wilson, who had “Tommy John surgery” back in 2003, hit the Twitters Thursday night to express his condolences.
Selfishly, without Jobe, The Hall of Very Good would be without its first inductee. In 2012, we inducteed John as part of our inaugural class. Coincidentally, our friends over at The Baseball Reliquary inducted Jobe into their Shrine of the Eternals that same week. A year later, the good doctor was honored by the Baseball Hall of Fame for having a significant impact on baseball culture.
Jobe is survived by his wife, Beverly, four sons, their spouses and eight grandchildren.