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Dr. Frank Jobe, medical pioneer, named special advisor to the chairman
02/21/2008 11:04 AM ET
LOS ANGELES -- The Los Angeles Dodgers announced today that longtime team physician, pioneer, and patriarch of Dodger medical care Dr. Frank Jobe has been named Special Advisor to Dodger Owner and Chairman Frank McCourt. Considered by many to be deserving of induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame, Dr. Jobe made history with one of his numerous medical contributions - the ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) "Tommy John" surgery in 1974 which has saved the career of thousands of pitchers and in turn, changed baseball history.

"Dr. Jobe's contribution to the game is only bested by the exemplary character he has bestowed upon our organization for more than 40 years," McCourt said. "If ever a person had Hall of Fame credentials, it is this history-making medical pioneer."

Before Dr. Jobe's medical breakthrough in 1974, pitchers who suffered torn elbow ligament injuries were forced into an early retirement, as there was no cure for this injury. Dodger Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax was just one of the countless pitchers whose careers were ended due to this complication. In 1974, Dodger pitcher Tommy John inspired Dr. Jobe's groundbreaking procedure when he was diagnosed with a ruptured UCL - the same injury that had ended Koufax's career.

Prior to the finding, John had won 124 games and held the best record in the National League (13-3) in 1974. Unwilling to retire due to the injury, he asked Dr. Jobe to find a way to get him back in the game. On September 25, 1974, Dr. Jobe performed the new procedure, now known as "Tommy John" surgery. The surgery mended John's injured elbow by removing a tendon from his non-pitching right arm and placing it in the wounded elbow. The three-hour surgery changed baseball and sports medicine forever. John came back to pitch 14 more years during which he won 164 games without ever missing a start due to elbow problems.

Since then, Dr. Jobe has performed about 1,000 Tommy John surgeries on pitchers of every level, helping to resurrect the career of countless big leaguers. In fact, more than 75 active Major League players have had the surgery performed on them.

"Dr. Jobe epitomizes what the Dodgers, as an organization, strive to be," McCourt said. "He changed one life, followed by thousands of lives, and in turn, allowed for those who loved the game to return and continue to live their passion."

Sixteen years after changing John's life and career, he reconstructed the right shoulder of Cy Young Award Winner and pitching legend Orel Hershiser, another breakthrough procedure that had never been successfully performed on a Major League pitcher. He also developed a series of shoulder exercises - known throughout the medical and sports industries as the "Jobe exercises" - that strengthen the rotator cuff and are intended to prevent the need for surgery of the kind Dr. Jobe performed on Hershiser.

Dr. Jobe was a medical supply sergeant in the Army's 101st Airborne Division during World War II and was one of the soldiers encircled at Bastogne, Belgium during the Battle of the Bulge. Never intending to become a doctor, the North Carolina native became inspired when he watched military physicians work tirelessly to save lives even as they were risking their own. Dr. Jobe, a native of North Carolina, studied at Loma Linda University in California and completed his residency at USC County Hospital. He has an honorary doctorate degree from the University of Tokushima in Japan.

He began working with the Dodgers in 1964 and has served as the club's orthopaedic doctor since 1968. In 1965, Dr. Jobe joined with the first team physician in Los Angeles Dodger history, Dr. Robert Kerlan, to open the Southwestern Orthopaedic Medical Group, which would later be named the Kerlan Jobe Orthopaedic Clinic in 1985. In 2003, the medical room at Dodgertown in Vero Beach, FL was named after Dr. Jobe.

Dr. Jobe currently serves as a clinical professor of Orthopaedic Surgery at the University of Southern California. He was a founding member and past president of the National Baseball Physicians Association and the American Shoulder and Elbow Surgeons. The American Orthopaedic Society of Sports Medicine named him Mr. Sports Medicine in 1996 and later inducted him into its Hall of Fame.

"We hope that Dr. Jobe will provide his wisdom, counsel, and care as the Dodgers continue their pioneering efforts," McCourt said. "We are so honored to call him a member of the Dodgers family."

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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