Lewis Yocum

Dr. Lewis Yocum (Associated Press)

Dr. Lewis Yocum, the longtime Angels team physician and a giant in the world of sports orthopedic medicine, died over the weekend after quietly battling liver cancer, the team announced Tuesday. He was 65.

Yocum, who was in his 36th season with the Angels, was among the nation’s most-renowned sports surgeons, one who saved the  careers of countless professional athletes, many of them major-league and minor-league pitchers who underwent Tommy John surgery.

“The Angels family and Major League Baseball have lost one of baseball’s finest gentlemen and a truly outstanding professional with the passing of Dr. Yocum,” Angels spokesman Tim Mead said in a team-issued statement.

“His talents extended the careers of countless professional athletes, and he extended quality of life for so many others he advised, treated and operated on during his distinguished career. His contributions and impact in the medical field will long be remembered across the country. He represents the standard for others in his profession to attain.”

An associate at the Kerlan-Jobe Orthopaedic Clinic in Los Angeles, Yocum was inducted as an honorary member of the Professional Baseball Athletics Trainers Society in 2008, becoming only the second physician to earn that distinction. He also sat on the Medical Advisory Committee that worked with Commissioner Bud Selig.

The Chicago native received his bachelor's degree from Western Illinois University in 1969 and his M.D. degree from the University of Illinois in 1973.

Yocum is survived by his wife, Beth; a son, Donald; and a daughter, Laura, whose ages are not known.

[Updated 2:28 p.m., May 28: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated Lewis Yocum's age as 66. He was 65. ]

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