Dr. Frank Jobe, the American surgeon whose “Tommy John” procedure extended the careers of thousands of baseball’s top pitchers, has died at age 88.
Jobe invented the surgery — a procedure known as ulnar collateral ligament reconstruction in the medical world — in 1974 while he was the orthopedic doctor for the Los Angeles Dodgers. Jobe named it after Tommy John, the legendary pitcher who was the first to go under the knife and would wind up pitching until 1989, racking up 288 career wins along the way.
Last July, Jobe was honoured by the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y., for his contribution to the sport. John joined him on stage that day, and thanked his former doctor and friend in a statement Friday.
“What he's done medically speaking is as much as a 300-game winner,” John said.
Condolences poured in from across the baseball world. Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig called Jobe’s procedure “groundbreaking” and said there’s a certain pride to developing a procedure for a baseball club that has now become a widely accepted medical practice.
L.A. Dodgers president Stan Kasten said: "His dedication and professionalism in not only helping the Dodgers, but athletes around the world is unparalleled. He was a medical giant and pioneer.”
Since 1974, some of baseball’s best pitchers including Stephen Strasburg, Chris Carpenter, A.J. Burnett, Brian Wilson and, recently, Matt Harvey have had Tommy John surgery.
Jobe died Thursday in Santa Monica after being recently hospitalized with an undisclosed illness, the Dodgers organization said.