Dr. Dudley Pfaff, Millennium Hall of Fame

January 22, 2001

Richard Dunn

With a hometown approach and an old fashioned flair, Dr. Dudley

Pfaff dedicated his career to sports medicine and youth athletics in the

Newport-Mesa School District.

Now a "full-time grandpa" with 15 grandchildren, Pfaff can still be

spotted in the bleachers or on the sidelines of a Junior All-American

football game or some other athletic event.


And, with each glimpse, there's a reminder of how special the path

has been for today's honoree in the Daily Pilot Sports Hall of Fame,

affectionately known throughout the area as "Doc Pfaff."

Pfaff began his career as a family practitioner and delivered more

babies during America's great baby boom "than anyone in the country."

But, in 1960, then-Costa Mesa football coach Don Burns asked Pfaff to

be the team doctor and, unbeknownst to anyone, a local legend was born.

With his voluntary appointment as Mesa's team doctor, Pfaff launched

his research into sports medicine and endocrinology to study the body's

hormonal problems.

"The greatest change is in puberty for growth and development," said

Pfaff, who was determined to understand the growing athlete and, today,

is viewed as a pioneer of sorts in sports medicine.

For nearly four decades, Pfaff served as the football team doctor at

Costa Mesa, Estancia and Corona del Mar high schools, as well as

volunteering his time, care and knowledge to Junior All-American football

and CdM basketball.

Pfaff, who retired as a 41-year physician in August 1996, opened his practice out of his Costa Mesa garage in 1955, then later moved to an

office across from Hoag Hospital, where he had been on staff for 39 years

and was the longest active staff member until his retirement.

Pfaff, who once accepted a fellowship at Children's Hospital of Los

Angeles, practiced out of the Park Lido Building adjacent to Hoag for

several years, before moving his office to Westcliff Drive in Newport

Beach, then finally to Fashion Island.

Pfaff's partner for 37 years, Dr. Walter Parsel, once said the affable

Pfaff was a generous doctor.

"He was pretty much like the old fashioned doctor," Parsel said. "If

(patients) couldn't afford to pay, he would never refuse to take care of


But volunteering on the gridiron became a passion for Pfaff, who

"considered myself like one of (the players') many coaches in the game of

life. It was a special time for me to be with them."

In the 1960s, Pfaff began limiting his practice to patients between 8

and 21, yet never turned away his original patients while making the

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