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
"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