This is the All-Star team of sports medicine. After consultation with people around the world of baseball and sports medicine, I've compiled a list of 10 "Super Surgeons."
This is my version of this kind of list, and I believe it remains important. The fact is that while these 10 physicians are stars in the sports medicine world, they are largely unknown to sports fans. While we all worry about the epidemic of arm injuries in baseball, it's ironic that we know so little about the men who attempt to heal those same injuries.
While many would recognize the name Dr. James Andrews, few know how he got to where he is. Did you know his athletic background is not in baseball or football, but track and field? (He was a pole vaulter.) Do most super surgeons come from the same background or top medical schools? Not at all.
Their stories are as individual as the athletes they help. Most played sports and came to love them, but topped out and found a new way to keep their passion for competition alive after medical school. (That's a pretty good plan B, after all.) All are exceptionally qualified and passionate about their profession. They are athletes and most are younger than expected.
While it will surprise no one that Dr. Andrews remains at No. 1 this year, there is always the question of who the "next Dr. Andrews" will be. If anything, this list reminds us that sports medicine is in good hands for years to come.
If Dr. Andrews retires in the next few years, there may be a reshuffling of who goes where from what teams and agents, but the quality of care should remain constant, largely because of a focus on education and research, fueled by Dr. Andrews and Dr. Frank Jobe, who passed away earlier this year.
A significant portion of the doctors on this list were trained by one of those two doctors or those whom they trained.
Sadly, Dr. Jobe is not the only loss. Dr. Lewis Yocum, who was on both previous lists, passed away in 2013, though his work lives on. This list, as you will see, tends to trend down to the next generation and even beyond, which means that sports medicine is in very good hands.
This list is hardly comprehensive, as there are far more than 10 worthy physicians out there. Teams around baseball (and other sports, since there is a massive crossover) have hard-working and well-qualified medical teams. If I wanted, I could go 20 or 30 deep with this list, but I've always thought the simple top 10 worked best.
For now, let's meet this 2014 class of Super Surgeons.