Frank Jobe, Renown Sports Doctor, Passes Away
Frank Jobe passed away on March 6 at the age of 88, a legend in the annals of sports medicine as the creator of the “Tommy John” surgery for baseball pitchers. His groundbreaking achievement prolonged or saved the careers of countless baseball players at all levels and changed baseball forever.
On April 19, 2013, La Sierra University honored Jobe as its Alumnus of the Year. A couple months later, in July, he received one of the highest honors a civilian can get from the professional sports world: recognition from the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York, during Hall of Fame Weekend 2013.
Jobe changed the game of baseball on September 25, 1974, when he performed the first ulnar collateral ligament reconstruction surgery on the left elbow of a Los Angeles Dodger pitcher Tommy John. The procedure, now known as “Tommy John” surgery, involved grafting a tendon from John’s forearm into his elbow to replace the ligament. John recovered and took his baseball career to new heights.
Before the operation, Tommy John had won 124 games in the major leagues. After the surgery, he won 164 games, and was able to play until age 46.
Since that groundbreaking achievement, Jobe performed more than 1,000 Tommy John surgeries on pitchers of varying levels and abilities. He later developed another revolutionary procedure, a shoulder reconstruction surgery that was first used to save the career of Dodger great Orel Hershiser.
Jobe graduated from La Sierra in 1949 with a Bachelor of Arts degree. He then studied medicine at Loma Linda’s College of Medical Evangelists, now Loma Linda University School of Medicine. In 1965, along with sports medicine physician Robert Kerlan, he founded the Kerlan-Jobe Orthopaedic Clinic.
During his acceptance speech for the Alumni of the Year Award, Jobe attributed his success in life to others, beginning with his wife, Beverly, who created a “stable home environment so I could do things without worrying about anything,” he said. He also cited the life lessons he learned from La Sierra’s faculty during his college tenure.
“Those life lessons are probably more important than any book learning,” Jobe said. “They showed me how to live, how to be nice to people, how to take care of people. La Sierra has such a treasure in its faculty. I hope it’s never lost.
The Jobe family has a long-standing connection with La Sierra University. Jobe’s son, Meredith; grandson, Kevin; and daughter-in-law, Melanie Jobe, are all alumni of La Sierra. Meredith currently is a member of the university Board of Trustees, and Melanie is director of the Center for Student Academic Success.