Frank Jobe, pioneer of Tommy John surgery, dies at 88

March 7, 2014 at 2:57 PM   |   Comments

SANTA MONICA, Calif., March 7 (UPI) -- Dr. Frank Jobe, former Los Angeles Dodger orthopedist and pioneer of Tommy John surgery, passed away Santa Monica, Calif., at the age of 88, officials said.

No cause was given for Jobe's passing Thursday, which was announced by the Dodgers, the Los Angeles Times reported.

In 1974, Jobe made what many consider one of the most extraordinary medical advances in baseball history when he transplanted an unneeded 6-inch tendon from Dodger pitcher Tommy John's right arm into his left, which he pitched with, after the player tore an elbow ligament during a game against the Montreal Expos.

After the procedure, John went on to win another 164 games over 14 seasons.

The procedure, known as Tommy John surgery, has been performed on hundreds of other baseball players, mostly pitchers, to save their careers.

"Many of us go into medicine thinking we are going to change the world, and it just doesn't happen, certainly not to this magnitude," Dr. Timothy Kremchek, the Cincinnati Reds' medical director told the Los Angeles Times in a 2005 interview.

In a 2012 interview with Fox Sports, Jobe said he told John before the surgery that his chances of success were low -- the doctor had only performed the surgery on polio patients to improve joint use, the New York Times reported.

"He looked around my office very seriously," Jobe said. "He looked me in the eye and said, 'Let's do it.' And those are three words that changed baseball."

"There are a lot of pitchers in baseball who should celebrate his life and what he did for the game of baseball," John said in a statement after Jobe's death.

Jobe, who was on the Dodgers' medical staff until 2008, is survived by his wife, Beverly; his sons, Christopher, Meredith, Cameron and Blair; and eight grandchildren.

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