02/21/08 7:20 PM ET
Jobe named advisor to McCourt
Noted surgeon has been member of Dodgers staff since 1968
By Ken Gurnick / MLB.com
Jobe, 82, has spent the last year recovering from two back operations and will no longer practice at the Kerlan-Jobe Clinic, but he will continue consultations. A member of the Dodgers' medical team since 1968, Jobe has turned over responsibility for ballplayer operations to Dr. Neal ElAttrache.
Although Jobe is best known for inventing the "Tommy John" surgery, he takes greatest pride in the "Jobe Exercises" that are prescribed for pitchers at all levels of the game to strengthen the rotator cuff muscles.
"It's more important to prevent surgeries" than perform them, he said.
Nonetheless, it is the Tommy John operation that made Jobe famous. Seven current Dodgers pitchers have had it, including Hong-Chih Kuo and Matt Riley twice. Jobe has performed more than 1,000 of the surgeries, and by his count, 75 current Major Leaguer pitchers have had it.
The operation involves harvesting a non-essential tendon from the opposite wrist or a leg that is used to replace the torn ulnar collateral ligament, which stabilizes the elbow. The new ligament is tied in a figure-eight pattern through holes drilled into the ulna and humerus bones that form the elbow.
Jobe said he invented the procedure only after John, then pitching for the Dodgers, urged him to find a solution. At the time, said Jobe, sports surgeries of any type were rare and John was not responding to traditional therapy.
"I suggested he take up golf," Jobe recalled. "He said to come up with something. I knew I could fix it, but I didn't know if the body would invade the elbow with blood vessels. The chance of success was pretty poor. I didn't have much faith in it. I watched every start of his carefully, but I waited several years before trying another. I thought it might be a fluke. Now it's done by all the doctors."
Because of his profound impact on the game, it has been suggested that Jobe be considered for induction in the Baseball Hall of Fame.
"That would be the biggest honor I could get," he said.
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. He studied at Loma Linda University in California and completed his residency at USC County Hospital.
He began working with the Dodgers in 1964 and has served as the club's orthopaedic doctor since 1968. In 1965, Dr. Jobe partnered on a handshake with the first team physician in Los Angeles Dodgers history, Dr. Robert Kerlan, to open the Southwestern Orthopaedic Medical Group, which would later be named the Kerlan-Jobe Orthopaedic Clinic in 1985.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.