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Medicine Men

Two U of T alumni work their magic to keep Toronto’s Jays and Raptors running

The Raptors: Doug Richards
“Pistons Humble Raptors in Game One,” screamed an April 22 headline after the first NBA playoff round. The day before, Dr. Doug Richards (MD 1979), a team physician for the Toronto Raptors, was cool. “I try very hard not to let any sport- or game-related pressure affect my medical judgment,” he says. “I shut out all of the hype and big-money issues, and just practise medicine.”

Richards, who is also medical director of U of T’s David L. MacIntosh Sport Medicine Clinic and an assistant professor of physical education and health at the university, says the mix of hands-on medicine and classroom instruction keeps him feeling alive. He underplays his job pressures. “It’s stressful when Vince Carter can’t play, but I learned a long time ago, injuries are a fact of life at this level.” And when he has to give a player bad news? “A knee is a knee whether or not it belongs to someone being paid millions to run or jump on it,” he says.

Sports medicine has been Richards’ game since 1984, when he started working at the MacIntosh Clinic, Canada’s oldest clinic dedicated solely to sports medicine. Now, he’s pursuing a PhD in biomechanics at the University of Waterloo – in part, to improve his research on sports injury.

So does he find time to hit the court himself? “You know what, I don’t,” admits Richards. “I’ve been drawn into a very high-level basketball world in which everyone is an amazing player in the one sport I have essentially never played.

The Jays: Ron Taylor
Dr. Ron Taylor (BASc 1961, MD 1977) is a busy man. Every weekday he works at his family practice in North Toronto, three weeknights he heads the S. C. Cooper Sports Medicine Clinic he helped found 23 years ago at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto, and, in his spare time, he’s the medical director for the Toronto Blue Jays. Taylor oversees a team of sports specialists and is responsible for the health care of both the home and visiting teams throughout the season.

“It all works out,” says Taylor. He’s used to making all the pieces fit. As an 18-year-old, he left high school to begin a 16-year career as a pitcher. But he soon negotiated with his team, the Cleveland Indians, to be let off spring training for the five years it took to finish high school and earn a degree in electrical engineering. He didn’t seem to suffer from missed training; Taylor was a relief pitcher in two World Series, helping to garner wins for the St. Louis Cardinals in 1964 and the New York Mets in 1969. He worked as an engineer in the off seasons.

But when his arm gave out and he left the game, he left engineering, too, and gained admission to U of T’s Faculty of Medicine. Soon after graduating in 1977, he joined the Jays, and has been with them ever since. Is there a secret to making the relationship last? “The players and I never discuss baseball.”

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  1. 2 Responses to “ Medicine Men ”

  2. University of Toronto Magazine says:

    Before Ron Taylor became Dr. Ron Taylor he was a great pitcher in the Major Leagues, registering 72 saves in a career that spanned 11 seasons (1962 to 1972) with four major-league teams (St. Louis, Houston, New York Mets, San Diego). He is the only Canadian pitcher ever to win a League Championship Series game, the only Canadian to win two World Series championships with two different teams and the only major-league player to return to major-league baseball as a team doctor.

    Scott Crawford, director of operations,
    Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame & Museum,
    St. Marys, Ontario

  3. Gerry Manale says:

    Ron and I were teammates on the Metropolitan Motors of the Leaside Baseball League. Ron earned the nickname "Silky" after the racehorse "Silky Sullivan" due to his blinding running speed on the base paths (chuckle). I went on to play professional baseball in 1957 in the Nebraska State Rookie League after signing with the Toronto Maple Leafs of the AAA International League. In 1957 I played for the Holdrege White Sox and in 1958 I played for the Orlando Flyers in the Florida State League. At the time it was class "D" ball which is equivalent to the present day "A" ball. I also attended U of T and graduated in 1958.