Dr. Arthur Pappas, 84, Red Sox Physician, Helped Children at Hale

Arthur PappasDr. Arthur Michael Pappas, 84, who frequently consulted on disabled children at Haverhill’s former Hale Hospital, died Tuesday, March 22, at University of Massachusetts Medical Center, Worcester.

A native of Auburn, Pappas graduated from Auburn High School, Harvard College and the University of Rochester School of Medicine. He spent two years in the U.S. Navy doing research at the National Naval Medical Center at Bethesda, Maryland. He had a long and distinguished career as a leader in orthopedic medicine, academia, child advocacy, sports medicine and philanthropy. He was the founding chair of the Department of Orthopedics and Physical Rehabilitation at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center. Pappas served as vice president for Affiliate Relations for UMass Memorial Health Care, professor of pediatrics at UMass Medical School and chair of the board of Fairlawn Rehabilitation Hospital in Worcester.

For more than five decades Pappas brought not only his skills as an orthopedic surgeon but also his leadership in orthopedic residency programs to the University of Massachusetts Medical Center as well as to the Children’s Hospital, Massachusetts General Hospital and Peter Bent Brigham Hospital in Boston, as well as to the Veteran’s Administration Hospital in Roxbury, Massachusetts.

Considered by many to be a pioneer in the field of sports medicine for both children and adults, he focused his teaching and patient care primarily on the orthopedic needs of handicapped children and the care of professional as well as amateur athletes both young and old. He was medical director for the Boston Red Sox for more than 25 years. Baseball Hall of Famer Carl Yastrzemski said, “I lived my dream. Many call it the impossible dream. Arthur Pappas was responsible for my dream. If it wasn’t for Arthur Pappas, I would not have had 3,000 hits and 400 home runs.”

Pappas was also a former president of the Association of Professional Baseball Physicians, a member of the Sports Medicine Committee for the American Academy of Pediatrics, president of the Massachusetts Amateur Sports Foundation and sponsor of the Bay State Games.

In his lifetime, he was the recipient of a number of honors including the Massachusetts Medical Society Lifetime Achievement Award in 2011, Worcester District Medical Society’s Dr. A. Jane Fitzpatrick Community Service Award in 1999 and the Physician Achievement Award from the Arthritis Foundation in 2000. Pappas was also honored by receiving the Massachusetts Hospital School’s Edward H. Bradford Lifetime Achievement Award for Program Development for Handicapped Children, the Shining Star Award from UMass Children’s Medical Center, Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from Franklin Pierce University, and Honorary Doctor of Science, honoris causa, from the UMass Medical School. In 2003 multiple donors honored Pappas by establishing the Arthur M. Pappas, MD, Chair in Orthopedics at UMass Medical School.

In addition to his participation in a number of medical organizations, Dr. Pappas was keenly active in community service in his hometown of Auburn and beyond. He served as president of the board of directors of the Massachusetts Amateur Sports Foundation, president of the Massachusetts Hospital School for Handicapped Children, Canton, and President and member of the board of trustees of the EcoTarium in Worcester. He received the key to the City of Worcester.

Pappas and his wife, Martha R. Pappas, Ed. D., were highly regarded for their generosity and philanthropy. They received the 2012 Isaiah Thomas Award for leadership and philanthropy from the Worcester Telegram & Gazette for “dedicating a lifetime to improving their local community as well as enriching education, health and recreation opportunities throughout the region.” The couple unveiled a youth athletic complex, The Arthur M. and Martha R. Pappas Recreation Complex in their hometown of Auburn,. This included little league, softball and soccer fields, a playground for families and children and a performance pavillion. In 2001, a renovated teaching amphitheater was formally dedicated to the Pappases for their philanthropy to the Medical School and the UMass Medicine Foundation. He was a 33° Mason and also a member of the Joel H. Prouty Masonic Lodge, Auburn.

Although he loved baseball and is famously known as the “father of sports medicine,” Pappas’s true passion was to help the most helpless in our society. For him, these were always the children who presented with severe orthopedic challenges. His devotion to them was the defining commitment for Dr. Pappas.

Dr. Pappas’s favorite quotation was: “A hundred years from now…it will not matter what my bank account was, the sort of house I lived in, nor the kind of car I drove … but (that) the world may be different because I was important in the life of a child.”

Dr. Pappas leaves behind his wife, Martha R. Pappas, Ed. D., and his beloved cats Patches and Blizzy.

A private burial service will take place with immediate family. The family is planning a Celebration of Life to honor Dr. Pappas near the date of his birthday in July of this year. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that anyone wishing to honor his memory consider a donation to The Auburn Foundation at the Greater Worcester Community Foundation, 370 Main Street, # 650, Worcester, MA 01608 (www.greaterworcester.org) or to the Massachusetts Hospital School Foundation, 3 Randolph Street, Canton, MA 02021 (www.mhsf.us).