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Renowned sports surgeon, Lewis Yocum, who preserved and extended the careers of countless professional baseball players passed away on May 28 at the age of 65. To so many of those who knew him, he was a beloved colleague, a respected mentor, and a loyal friend. Dr. Yocum served as the head team physician for the Los Angeles Angels for 36 years. During that time he played a pivotal role in the development of the Major League Baseball Team Physicians Association serving as a member of the Executive Board, as Vice President, and as President. His initiative, foresight and guidance helped to shape our organization and foster its role in advancing the care of professional baseball players. Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig described Dr. Yocum as “a giant in the field of sports medicine” and “an invaluable resource to not only the Angels franchise but players throughout all of Major League Baseball, team physicians and the members of the Professional Baseball Athletics Trainers Society”. Mr. Selig added, “throughout the last 36 years, the lives and careers of countless players benefited from his pioneering expertise, and he made our game on the field better as a result.”

Dr. Yocum was a native of Chicago, Illinois. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Western Illinois University in 1969, and a medical doctorate from the University of Illinois in 1973. He served his general surgery internship and orthopaedic surgery residency at Northwestern University from 1973 until 1977. He completed his fellowship in sports medicine at the Kerlin-Jobe Clinic in 1977-1978, and he remained there as an attending surgeon for his entire career. During his storied career, Dr. Yocum conducted groundbreaking research, authored numerous papers, articles and books, and presented nationally and internationally on the treatment of the injured athlete. He had been an active member of numerous sports medicine societies. He had been the Program Chairman and driving force behind the annual Professional Baseball Athletic Trainers Society (PBATS) Baseball Conference which has become one of the largest baseball meetings in the world. Dr. Yocum’s modification of the original Ulnar Collateral Ligament Reconstruction (Tommy John surgery), created by his partner Frank Jobe, M.D., has become one of the standards for this surgery worldwide.

Dr. Yocum served for nearly four decades as team physician of the Los Angeles Angels. Because of his dedication, expertise, and judgment, he became one of the longest tenured physicians in professional sports, gaining the universal respect of players, management, and peers. His list of patients is a veritable Who’s Who of professional baseball players. In 2008, he became only the second physician to be named an honorary member of the Professional Baseball Athletic Trainers Society and on May 5, 2013, the Los Angeles Angels dedicated the “Dr. Lewis Yocum Athletic Training Room” in his honor.

In spite of all of his accomplishments, Lewis Yocum remained a truly genuine, honest and compassionate man with a deep love of family and friends. His brilliance as a surgeon and orthopaedist are only outweighed by his brilliance as a person. The Major League Baseball Team Physicians Association owes him tremendous gratitude for his clinical and academic insight, but more importantly for his enduring friendship. In acknowledgement of his impact, the Major League Baseball Team Physicians Association has established the Honorary Lewis Yocum Lectureship at the yearly Major League Baseball Winter Meeting Academic Day and has supported his beloved St. Sebastian Sports Projects of Los Angeles. Because of the tremendous impact that he had as a physician and as a person, Lewis Yocum will be deeply missed. We are certainly forever indebted to him and truly better off for having known him as a colleague, as a mentor, and as a friend.

 

Michael G. Ciccotti, M.D.
Head Team Physician, Philadelphia Phillies
President, Major League Baseball Team Physicians Association

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