"It's more important to prevent surgeries" than perform them, he said.
Nonetheless, it is the Tommy John operation that made Jobe famous. Seven current Dodgers pitchers have had it, including Hong-Chih Kuo and Matt Riley twice. Jobe has performed more than 1,000 of the surgeries, and by his count, 75 current Major Leaguer pitchers have had it.
The operation involves harvesting a non-essential tendon from the opposite wrist or a leg that is used to replace the torn ulnar collateral ligament, which stabilizes the elbow. The new ligament is tied in a figure-eight pattern through holes drilled into the ulna and humerus bones that form the elbow.
Jobe said he invented the procedure only after John, then pitching for the Dodgers, urged him to find a solution. At the time, said Jobe, sports surgeries of any type were rare and John was not responding to traditional therapy.
"I suggested he take up golf," Jobe recalled. "He said to come up with something. I knew I could fix it, but I didn't know if the body would invade the elbow with blood vessels. The chance of success was pretty poor. I didn't have much faith in it. I watched every start of his carefully, but I waited several years before trying another. I thought it might be a fluke. Now it's done by all the doctors."
Because of his profound impact on the game, it has been suggested that Jobe be considered for induction in the Baseball Hall of Fame.
"That would be the biggest honor I could get," he said.
Jobe was a medical supply sergeant in the Army's 101st Airborne Division during World War II and was one of the soldiers encircled at Bastogne, Belgium, during the Battle of the Bulge. He studied at Loma Linda University in California and completed his residency at USC County Hospital.
He began working with the Dodgers in 1964 and has served as the club's orthopaedic doctor since 1968. In 1965, Dr. Jobe partnered on a handshake with the first team physician in Los Angeles Dodgers history, Dr. Robert Kerlan, to open the Southwestern Orthopaedic Medical Group, which would later be named the Kerlan-Jobe Orthopaedic Clinic in 1985.