14 March 2014

here's to dr. frank jobe

1974 was a big year for tommy john, and the 2004 upper deck legends set included the dodger left hander in the 1974 dodger 'timeless teams' subset.
the dodgers went on to win the pennant that year, but john didn't pitch in the playoffs or world series.  he had been pitching well in the regular season, and was well on his way to defending his winning percentage title as he was 13-3 in his first 21 starts.  his 22nd start came on july 17 against the expos.  pitching in the third inning with a 4-0 lead (john had singled home steve garvey in the bottom of the second for one of the dodgers' runs), john allowed a single to former teammate willie davis and a walk to former dodger bob bailey.  up came hal breeden, and after two pitches (both balls), john was out of the game with his left elbow out of commission.

we know how this story ends - john undergoes a revolutionary surgery performed by dr. frank jobe in which a tendon is removed from his forearm and grafted in the elbow to replace the ulnar collateral ligament and returns the the major leagues in 1976 and pitches for 15 seasons, including 5 postseasons, post-op.  by the way, i was pleased to find this column written by the great jim murray in 1975, before we knew whether the surgery was a success or not.

as i am sure you are aware, dr. jobe passed away last week.  dr. jobe was the dodger team physician, but as a baseball fan - not just a dodger fan - i am thankful for his work.  i wonder if the dodgers will wear a patch for him as the angels did for their orthopedic surgeon dr. lew yocum last season.  whether they do or not, the best memorial to dr. jobe are the players whose careers are no longer ended by the injury.  long live tommy john surgery, and rest in peace, dr. jobe.

1 comment:

Fuji said...

Great post. Never knew the name of the doctor behind the famous surgery. Now I do. RIP Dr. Frank Jobe