Dr. Frank Jobe, who made history in 1974 by inventing and performing the first ulnar collateral ligament reconstruction, passed away on Thursday morning, the Dodgers announced. He was 88 years old.
Jobe served as the Dodgers' team physician for 40 years and maintained an advisory role for another 10, but it was his operation on longtime MLB pitcher Tommy John that made him an icon in sports. At the time he performed what is now commonly known as Tommy John surgery, Jobe estimated the then-31-year-old star hurler had a one-percent chance of returning to pitch in the big leagues. John did just that in 1976 at the age of 33 and went on to win 164 more games in the majors before retiring as a 46-year-old after the 1989 season.
As of 2009, players who underwent the surgery were said to have a recovery rate between 85 and 92 percent.
MLB commissioner Bud Selig released a statement on the news of Jobe's death:
Statement from Commissioner Selig on the passing of Dr. Frank Jobe: pic.twitter.com/On0HXYnOIN
— MLB Public Relations (@MLB_PR) March 7, 2014
A few of the many players who have benefited from Jobe's groundbreaking discovery, including John, took to Twitter to say their goodbyes:
He change my life!! Gave me back my career!! I will miss him and I am eternally grateful!!! Dr. Frank Jobe
— Orel Hershiser (@OrelHershiser) March 7, 2014
RIP Frank Jobe. A pioneer in baseball rehabilitation. Made careers longer ons earnings stronger. Baseball will miss you.
— greg swindell (@GregSwindell) March 7, 2014
Among his many sports-related ventures, Jobe also spent time serving in baseball with the Angels as well as the Ducks and Kings of the NHL, the Rams of the NFL and the Lakers of the NBA. However, his impact on modern medicine spreads far beyond the world of athletics; he wrote more than 140 medical publications and received three Honorary Doctorate Awards in addition to serving in World War II as a medical staff sergeant.