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The Most Important Man In Baseball History?

by Tom King

Who was the most important man in baseball history? Was it Alexander Cartwright who set out some early rules for the game? Was it Babe Ruth who changed the way we look at the home run and its importance? Was it Kennesaw Mountain Landis, who, as the game's first commissioner rescued baseball from the gamblers? Maybe Jackie Robinson and Branch Rickey who broke the color line? Those are all good choices but one name that should be added to the short list is Dr. Frank Jobe. Jobe is the man, who in 1974, tried an experimental procedure on an injured pitcher. The procedure was called an "ulnar collateral ligament reconstruction while using the palmaris longus tendon". It became better known as "Tommy John" surgery. John was an excellent pitcher with the Dodgers who tore his elbow ligament in a game in 1974. This had usually meant the end of a pitchers career. But Jobe suggsted they try a pioneering operation where he would take an unused tendon from the pitchers right wrist and transplant it into his left elbow. It worked and John went on to pitch for many more years and thousands of people, many pitchers, have had their careers saved since that day. Dr. Jobe died on Thursday but his legacy will live on and even if Cooperstown can't find room for him someday you certainly can make the argument that Frank Jobe was the most important man in baseball history.