Greensboro-Born Doctor Pioneers “Tommy John Surgery,” Saves Baseball Careers

Tommy John (left) and Dr. Frank Jobe talking to each other. Photo from the Los Angeles Dodgers.On September 25, 1974, Greensboro native Frank Jobe, an orthopedist for the Los Angeles Dodgers, replaced pitcher Tommy John’s torn medial collateral ligament in his pitching arm with a tendon from his wrist.

The injury had ended pitching careers since the beginning of baseball but, thanks to Jobe’s efforts, John resumed his career after a successful rehabilitation, playing for another 14 years and amassing 164 victories. The procedure, which has come to be known as the “Tommy John Surgery,” has saved the careers of countless pitchers and position players in all levels of baseball ever since.

Jobe, born in 1925, joined the Army at 18 and served as a supply sergeant in a medical unit with the 101st Airborne during World War II. He was inspired to become a surgeon after witnessing the bravery of army doctors on the battlefield, later recalling, “These guys would be operating in tents with bullets and shrapnel flying around. […] These guys became my real heroes.”

Jobe was honored for his pioneering contributions to baseball during the 2013 Baseball Hall of Fame awards ceremony, seven months before his death. Dodger’s president Stan Kasten remembered Jobe as a “medical giant and pioneer” who helped “athletes around the world.”

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