Hundreds of family, friends and colleagues of the late Dr. Frank W. Jobe recently gathered at Dodger Stadium for a celebration of the life of the Loma Linda University School of Medicine alumnus who died on March 6, 2014. He was 88.
“Dr. Jobe is one of Loma Linda University’s most recognized graduates,” said Roger Hadley, MD, dean of LLU School of Medicine. “Many would consider Dr. Jobe the ‘father of sports medicine.’ At his memorial service he was recognized for his passion for innovation, research and personalized patient care. His surgeries extended the pitching career for many star hurlers in the major leagues. Indeed, a comment was made that ‘Dr. Jobe has more major league wins than any other pitcher in the majors.’”
At the celebration, the large video screens that typically show game scores and replays instead projected images highlighting the life of Jobe. Photos of children, grandchildren, graduations, weddings, backyard gatherings, smiles, hugs and even some taken on the field with baseball greats were shared with guests as classic songs such as The Beatles’ “Let it Be” and Nat King Cole’s “What a Wonderful World” vibrated off the 56,000 stadium seats and through the hearts of those that were effected by Jobe.
Among the speakers at the event was Vin Scully, announcer for the Los Angeles Dodgers, who reminisced of their 50-year friendship. “I got to love him…we are so much richer for having known him,” Scully said. “I am honored and delighted to be here with all of you.”
Jobe earned his acclaim after he pioneered ulnar collateral ligament reconstruction surgery, which is known today as “Tommy John” surgery, in 1974.
“I was the guinea pig,” Tommy John said, joking, during his speech at the celebration. John was a pitcher for the LA Dodgers, and Jobe was an orthopaedic surgeon and team physician for the Dodgers. Had Jobe not performed the surgery on John, or had it not been successful, his pitching career would have ended.
John continued, “He was a brilliant surgeon, but I considered him my friend. When you lose a friend, it hurts, and it hurts a lot.”
Since the first “Tommy John” surgery in 1974, the procedure has become common practice for injured baseball pitchers at every level. Jobe said in an interview in 2013 that he was pretty sure “a pitcher on every major league team has probably had the procedure.”
Jobe was honored during the Baseball Hall of Fame weekend in Cooperstown, New York in July 2013 for his contributions to the sport
“‘Tommy John’ surgery was the convergence of a great doctor and the perfect patient,” Meredith Jobe, son of Frank Jobe, said during his speech. “He was a gifted healer, pioneered research, creative and bright with a superior bedside manner.”
Additional speakers at the celebration included James Tibone, MD, and Neal Elttrache, MD, of the Kerlan-Jobe Orthopaedic Clinic; and former colleague, Bernard Morrey, MD.
In addition to serving as the team physician for the Dodgers for 40 years, Jobe co-founded the Kerlan-Jobe Orthopaedic Clinic in California, and served as the orthopaedic consultant for the PGA and Senior PGA Tours for 26 years.
Dr. Jobe also played a vital role in saving the careers of professional baseball players in Japan—his personal care for the players and the generous teaching and training he provided to Japanese physicians has made him a national treasure to both baseball and sports medicine followers.
The Kerlan-Jobe Clinic continues to be a vital asset in the world of sports medicine, serving athletes of every caliber.
Jobe is survived by his wife, Beverly, four children and eight grandchildren.