Mariners fans, it’s time for us to take a moment to salute one of baseball’s legends. He was not a player or even a coach. He is Tommy John’s hero. Dr. Frank Jobe.
Dr. Frank Jobe was born a postman’s son in North Carolina. Right after high school, Jobe enlisted in the US Army. He served as a medic during WWII for the 101st Airborne Division. Recognizing his interest in the medical field during his time in the Army, Jobe began college in Tennessee not long after discharging from the Army. After only 1 year in Tennessee, Jobe transferred to a college in Riverside, California.
Southern California became home for Frank. He was able to finish his medical degree at Loma Linda University as well as his internship at Los Angeles County USC Medical Center.
After 3 years of practicing medicine, Dr. Jobe decided to go back and complete an orthopedic residency at USC Medical Center. A career move that would change the lives of many in the future.
Dr. Jobe and his friend Dr. Robert Kerlan joined forces in Southern California by starting the Kerlan-Jobe Orthopedic Clinic. Their primary responsibility was overseeing the medical treatment of the Los Angeles area professional sports teams, including the Dodgers.
In September of 1974, Dr. Jobe made medical history. A pitcher by the name of Tommy John had torn a major ligament in his elbow, typically a career ending injury. Tommy John wanted the Dodgers medical staff to explore all options to get him back into baseball. The idea behind the surgery Dr. Jobe was about to attempt was to take a piece of healthy ligament from John’s good arm and weave it in to replace the bad ligament in his throwing arm.
Dr. Jobe was not aware of what he had just done for the sport of baseball.
The doctors are recognizing the condition early enough to fix it and they are learning how to do the surgery so well. They rehab it so not just the arm, but the whole body gets better.
Tommy John earned 162 more career victories after the surgery. He never missed another start because of an elbow problem.
To this date, doctors have performed more than 1,000 Tommy John surgical procedures on athletes, saving just as many of their careers. These statistics would not have existed if it were not for Dr. Jobe.
Dr. Frank Jobe passed away Thursday at the age of 88.