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Pioneering ‘Tommy John’ surgeon dead at 88

Pioneering ‘Tommy John’ surgeon dead at 88

PIONEER: In 1974, orthopedic surgeon Frank Jobe transplanted a tendon to replace a torn left elbow ligament of Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Tommy John. The groundbreaking surgery was successful and John's subsequent comeback lasted 14 years, setting such a precedent for future patients that the surgery bears his name. Photo: Associated Press

(Reuters) – Dr. Frank Jobe, who pioneered the ‘Tommy John’ elbow surgery that has prolonged the careers of athletes in a variety of sports, particularly baseball, has died at the age of 88.

In 1974, orthopedic surgeon Jobe transplanted a tendon to replace a torn left elbow ligament of Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Tommy John.

The groundbreaking surgery was successful and John’s subsequent comeback lasted 14 years, setting such a precedent for future patients that the surgery bears his name.

PHOTOS: 2014 Notable Deaths

“He pitched a great game,” tweeted John. “He was a great surgeon but a better person. Many pitchers owe their lives to Dr. Frank Jobe.”

Dodgers President Stan Kasten was among those to pay tribute: “Frank Jobe is a Hall of Famer in every sense of the word.

“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.”

A.J. Burnett, Kerry Wood, John Smoltz, Joe Nathan and Stephen Strasburg are among the pitchers who have undergone the surgery.

(Reporting By Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina; Editing by Peter Rutherford)

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