Dr. Frank Jobe, the man who changed the face of the baseball world when he operated on Los Angeles Dodgers’ left-hander Tommy John, died Thursday at the age of 88.
Jobe sat watching the night it happened. The Dodgers were facing the Montreal Expos. It was the third inning when John threw a pair of wild pitches hearing what he called a “collision” in his left elbow. He had torn a ligament which at the time meant the pitcher’s career was over.
Jobe and John agreed to try an experimental procedure in which Jobe took an unused tendon out of John’s right wrist and used it to replace the torn ligament in his left elbow. That procedure is what we now know as “Tommy John Surgery” and it has saved the careers of pitchers and other athletes ever since. John went on to pitch until the age of 46, winning another 164 games. He’s said that his elbow never bothered him again.
With John by his side the famed surgeon was honored by the Baseball Hall of Fame during their induction weekend last July for his contribution to the game. After receiving the news of Jobe’s death, John said in a statement,
“There are a lot of pitchers in baseball who should celebrate his life and what he did for the game of baseball.”
He passed away in Santa Monica, CA and his death was formally announced by the Dodgers. He is survived by his wife, Beverly; his sons, Christopher, Meredith, Cameron and Blair; and eight grandchildren.