Japanese Hall of Fame pitcher Choji Murata on Friday praised the man who rescued his career, Dr. Frank Jobe, following the surgeon’s death.
Jobe, who developed the ligament reconstruction procedure now known as “Tommy John Surgery” after the first pitcher to undergo the operation in 1974, died on Thursday according to the Los Angeles Dodgers, with whom the 88-year-old physician was long affiliated.
A hard-throwing right-hander for the Lotte Orions, Murata hurt his pitching elbow in 1982 and became the first Japanese player to undergo the operation. He returned to action late in the 1984 season and went 17-5 the following season. From 1984 through the end of his career at the age of 40, Murata went 59-50.
“At that time, elbow surgery was taboo (in Japan),” Murata said. “In Japan, it was said a comeback was impossible, but Dr. Jobe made the impossible possible. He is the one who restored my energy to live.”
Since Murata’s comeback, the procedure has become a common one for Japanese pitchers.
“It left a message to the next generation of players that there was no need to fear surgery. May he rest in peace.”
Upon hearing the news of Dr. Jobe’s death, John said in a statement released by the Dodgers, “Baseball lost a great man and Tommy John lost a great friend. There are a lot of pitchers in baseball who should celebrate his life…”