Tommy John surgery pioneer Frank Jobe dies

Los Angeles, CA ( - Dr. Frank Jobe, who performed the first successful elbow ligament transplant surgery in 1974, died Thursday. He was 88 years old.

The Los Angeles Dodgers said Jobe died Thursday in Santa Monica, Calif.

Jobe was part of the Dodgers medical staff from 1968 through 2008 and his 1974 experimental procedure for pitcher Tommy John now bears the left-hander's name.

John was able to pitch another 14 years in the majors after the surgery that took a transplanted tendon from his forearm to replace the damaged ligament of the pitcher's elbow. It's now commonly known as Tommy John surgery and is performed regularly.

"Frank Jobe is a Hall of Famer in every sense of the word," said Dodgers president Stan Kasten. "His dedication and professionalism in not only helping the Dodgers, but athletes around the world is unparalleled. He was a medical giant and pioneer and many athletes in the past and the future can always thank Frank for finding a way to continue their careers."

Jobe began his association with the Dodgers in 1964 and took over as the team's physician four years later. After his retirement in 1988, Jobe was named a special advisor to the chairman.

In addition to the elbow ligament surgery, Jobe also developed a shoulder reconstruction procedure that helped save the career of Orel Hershiser.

"I was deeply saddened to learn of the loss of Dr. Frank Jobe, a great gentleman whose work in baseball revolutionized sports medicine," said commissioner Bud Selig. "Since 1974, his groundbreaking Tommy John surgery has revitalized countless careers, especially those of our pitchers. His wisdom elevated not only the Dodgers, the franchise he served proudly for a half- century, but all of our clubs.

"Dr. Jobe's expertise, as well as his enthusiasm to mentor his peers, made the National Pastime stronger. On behalf of Major League Baseball, I extend my deepest condolences to Dr. Jobe's family, friends, Dodger colleagues and the many admirers of his pioneering spirit throughout our game."

Jobe was honored by the Hall of Fame in 2013 for his surgical developments.