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Dr. Frank W. Jobe has dedicated his life to the clinical practice and science of maintaining and restoring the health of athletes. For 40 years, Dr. Jobe served as the team physician for the Los Angeles Dodgers and has directly influenced the careers of thousands of athletes. His pioneering contributions to baseball medicine have been recognized by athletes, professional teams, media, the public, the medical community. Dr. Jobe has defined the concept of sports medicine through his commitment to clinical excellence, dedication to research, and education has trained of over two hundred fellows. This past December 1, 2012, the Professional Baseball Athletic Trainers Society (PBATS) inducted Dr. Frank Jobe into the PBATS hall of fame

Frank Jobe was born on July 16, 1925 in Greensboro, NC. His father was a postal worker and supplemented the family by selling tomatoes in town. Frank attended the local public school until he attended a highly academic boarding school while maintaining a job of milking cows before class. After graduating high school, he enlisted in the army in 1943 as an Airborne Medical Corpsman. He served with the 101st Airborne Division (The Screaming Eagles) until 1946 as a Staff Sargeant. In World War II, he landed in Belgium, on a glider, and fought the Battle of the Bulge. He received the Bronze Star Medal, Combat Medic Badge and the Glider Badge. He watched military physicians work tirelessly to save lives and developed his interest in medicine.

After his tour of duty in the Army, he attended La Sierra University in Riverside, California where he earned his degree in 1949. After graduating, he worked in the Medical Examiner department at White Memorial Hospital in Los Angeles, CA and then enrolled in Loma Linda University where he graduated with a Medical Degree in 1956. He completed his internship at University of Southern California Medical Center in 1957 and then worked for 3 years as a General Practitioner in Westchester where he delivered 200 babies. He admired the creative opportunity that Orthopedic Surgeons faced everyday and remembers their work “just look like fun”. Dr. Jobe was accepted to the orthopedic residency program at University of Southern California Medical Center and during his 2nd year in residency, his attending Dr. Robert Kerlan approached Jobe and asked him what his future plans were. Jobe’s answer was a honest, “ I don’t know”. Kerlan smiled and told Jobe, “I know - you can come work with me”. Jobe didn’t see Kerlan again over the remaining 2 years and at the end of his 4th year, he called on Kerlan to tell him that he was finished with his residency and that he was ready to begin working with him. Kerlan met Jobe in his office and a handshake took place that signified a partnership that would shape sports medicine. Kerlan gave Jobe his first patient that very day, Johnny Podres, a famous LA Dodger pitcher who had fractured his elbow. Their handshake was the only formal agreement they ever had until the day that Kerlan passed away in 1996. In 1965, Kerlan and Jobe formed the Southwestern Orthopedic Medical Group a Sports Medicine Orthopedic Clinic in Los Angeles, CA. The name would change to the Kerlan-Jobe Orthopaedic Clinic in 1985. The clinic gained the confidence of the Southern California professional sports franchises including the Dodgers, Angels, Rams, Lakers, Kings and the jockeys at Hollywood Park, Santa Anita and Del Mar. Their reputation grew as they continued to define “Sports Medicine.”

In 1970, Dr. Kerlan underwent a total hip replacement. He experienced a lack of science and even guidelines to support his rehabilitation. This sparked Kerlan and Jobe’s recognition of the importance of post-operative rehabilitation. Working with various athletic trainers with the sports teams they were associated with, they developed new injury prevention strategies. They partnered with Mr. Clive Brewster a physical therapist to develop sophisticated postoperative rehabilitation guidelines and began training physical therapists. To find more answers, Kerlan and Jobe created the National Athletic Health Institute (NAHI) with the support of private donations and an advisory board of local sports leaders and owners and created the Centinela Biomechanics Laboratory. They recruited Dr. Jacqueline Perry of USC--‐ Rancho Los Amigos Hospital, a world famous rehabilitation center for polio, orthopedic and spine injuries. Her critical research acumen and standard for perfection was a perfect match for the inquisitive and creative minds of Kerlan and Jobe. As Dr. Jobe always explains, he and Bob were just lucky enough to surround themselves with smart people: engineers, physical therapists, video specialists and their training protégés, the sports medicine fellows. They painstakingly designed studies and used the old method of needles for EMG and film strip analysis to understand electrophysiologic and biomechanic explanations of simple throwing actions. They created translational research by applying their lab findings directly to athletes and everyday patient care. Their inclusion of all of the allied disciplines is what they felt defined “Sports Medicine.”

Jobe began working with the Dodgers in 1964 and has served as the club's orthopaedic doctor since 1968. On July 17, 1974, Tommy John was 31 years old and pitching for the Los Angeles Dodgers against the Montreal Expos. With runners on first and second John threw sinker attempting to obtain a ground ball and double play. Instead of a sinker he felt searing pain and a pitch that meekly reached the catcher. He attempted another pitch and felt more intense pain with the ball heading towards the stands. Jobe examined him in the training room and then with stress x-rays made the diagnosis of a torn ulnar collateral ligament. After a trial of non-operative treatment John was still unable to pitch ans asked Jobe to operate. Jobe informed John that no operation was available to correct his injury, John asked Jobe to make something up. Jobe put the odds of surgery working one in a one-hundred.

On September 25, 1974, Jobe performed surgery on John with John Stark, MD a hand surgeon to assist. Jobe found the badly damaged ulnar collateral ligament that was unrepairable. Forced to be innovative, Jobe then created the first ulnar collateral ligament reconstruction with a palmaris longus tendon graft. The graft was placed in complex drill holes created at the humeral epicondyle and the ulna. The weaving of the graft through the drill holes recreated the normal anatomy of the native ligament. John’s recovery following surgery was complicated by ulnar nerve dysfunction and he underwent a second surgery to transpose the ulnar nerve. John then undertook a regimented rehab protocol and he recalls throwing everyday except Sunday. John spent 18 months rehabilitating his elbow before returning for the 1976 season. His 10-10 record that year shocked baseball. John went on to pitch 13 more years winning 164 games after his surgery, forty more than before the surgery. He retired in 1989 at age 46. Jobe waited until John was able to return to pitching before performing his next ulnar collateral ligament reconstruction. Over his career, he has performed greater than 1,000 Tommy John surgeries on pitchers of every level.

Dr. Jobe’s pioneering work in the field of sports medicine and sports surgery has led to countless awards and honors. Jobe was a founding member and past president of the National Baseball Physicians Association and throughout his distinguished career, Dr. Jobe has contributed to more than 140 medical publications, and authored 7 books and 24 book chapters. In 2003, the medical room at Dodgertown in Vero Beach, FL was named after Jobe. Jobe was a founding and the American Shoulder and Elbow Surgeons. His has served in leadership roles for a number of professional organizations, including the American Orthopedic Society for Sports Medicine (former chairman), American Shoulder and Elbow Surgeons Association (former vice president), Major League Baseball Physicians Association (former president and secretary) and Western Orthopedic Association (former program chairman). Jobe was a consultant to the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports. He was the long-time medical director for the PGA Tour & Senior PGA Tour and has been named the emeritus physician for the PGA Tour. Most recently Jobe was inducted into the Shrine of the Eternals by the Baseball Relinquary. The Shrine recognizes baseball people whose careers were too short or controversial to make the Cooperstown class but are often more influential.

This article was written for mlbtpa.org by Dr. Christopher Ahmad.

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