Frank Jobe

From BR Bullpen

Frank W. Jobe

Biographical Information[edit]

Dr. Frank Jobe was an American orthopedic surgeon. From 1964 until his death in 2014, he was a consultant to the Los Angeles Dodgers medical staff. He is most famous for his pioneering 1974 surgery on pitcher Tommy John, the eponymous Tommy John surgery.

John had torn ligaments in his elbow after a decade of pitching at the major league level. Jobe decided to take a ligament from the pitcher's right wrist to replace the ligament in John's left, throwing, arm. After eighteen months of recovery, John returned to pitch effectively for another 14 years. The surgery was definitely a success.

Since the initial successful operation, hundreds of pitchers have benefited from the "Tommy John Surgery" pioneered by Jobe. Recovery takes a full calendar year but careers are no longer ended because of catastrophic elbow injuries. He also developed a set of exercises for pitchers' shoulders and elbows, the "Jobe Exercises", designed to lower the risk of injury. When he died, it was estimated that fully one-third of active major league pitchers had undergone the surgery he pioneered. He also invented a shoulder operation that was a lot less invasive than the existing rotator cuff surgery, whose success rate was very poor; Orel Hershiser was one of the first pitcher to benefit from that technique, which also became standard.

He served in the Army with great distinction as a medical staff surgeant during World War II, earning the Bronze Star Medal, the Combat Medic Badge, and the Glider Badge with one star. After the war, he attended a junior college in Tennessee then moved to California for his medical studies. During his residency at Los Angeles County Hospital, he met Dr. Robert Kerlan, who was then the Dodgers' physician. It was at Kerlan's urging that he took a specialization in orthopedics from the University of Southern California. The two opened a successful sports medicine clinic together in 1964, the Kerman-Jobe Clinic, and Jobe succeeded his mentor as the Dodgers' physician in 1968.

Jobe was also the orthopedic consultant for the Professional Golfers Association and Champions golf tours, the Dodgers and Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, as well as the National Basketball Association's Los Angeles Lakers and the National Hockey League Los Angeles Kings. He continued to perform surgeries in Southern California until his retirement in 2008, and stayed on as a special medical advisor for the Dodgers until his passing at age 88 in 2014. In addition to his busy medical practice, he was a clinical professor in the department of orthopedics for the Keck School of Medicine at USC.

Among the many honors he received were induction into the American Orthopedic Society of Sports Medicine Hall of Fame, the Professional Baseball Athletic Trainers Hall of Fame and by the Baseball Reliquary into its "Shrine of the Eternals". In 2013, he was the subject of a special tribute ceremony during the Hall of Fame induction week-end in Cooperstown, NY.

Further Reading[edit]

  • Richard Justice: "Jobe's legacy goes beyond medical contributions: Tommy John surgery pioneer, longtime Dodgers physician was dedicated, humble",, March 7, 2014. [1]

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