The late Larry Whiteside was a low-key writer, rarely critical. But when he began this March 99 piece with the line "Think it's easy being Dan Duquette?" you knew there was trouble. The issue this time concerned team physician Dr Arthur Pappas, who had also been a limited partner of the team since 1977. The situation often caused conflict-of-interest charges, and this was no exception.
Former Sox lefty Butch Henry had left as a free agent after the 98 season and signed with the Mariners. He had a fairly good year in Boston in 97, mostly as a reliever. Early in 98, however, he suffered a knee injury. According to Henry, Pappas told him to work through it rather than have surgery. Butch went under the knife in July anyway, and doctors found a partial tear of the anterior cruciate ligament. When the Sox asked the pitcher to take a $1million pay cut, he angrily took off for Seattle.
Never at a loss for words, Duquette struck back: "This is the same guy who pulled his hamstring rounding third and heading for home…in a spring training game last year. He did it on the bases. The last time I looked, a pitcher in the AL doesn't have to hit and run the bases. Maybe we did mishandle Butch. Every time I looked up, he was on the disabled list."
Pappas was often in the headlines, and they were rarely positive ones. Marty Barrett sued the doctor and the team in 92 and eventually was rewarded $1.7 million. In 98, he was blamed for misdiagnosing injuries to Brian Rose, Lou Merloni and Reggie Jefferson.
Why didn't the Yawkey Trust simply buy Pappas out? Impossible to say. He was one of the symbols of the Fenway Tower mentality often mentioned by Peter Gammons. Kevin Hench of the blog Hench's Hardball was more caustic. "I'm sure you all have your favorite Dr Pappas story. For me it was the time Al Nipper was spiked at home plate and had blood rushing out of his knee. Rather than taking him to one of the hospitals casting shadows on Fenway Park, Art the Ripper shipped Nip out to Worcester because that is where the good Doc is the head of orthopedics. John Valentin can also relate to that long ride and the sketchy medical skill waiting at the end of it….Guess we should be glad Pap doesn't work in Springfield- does Dr Pap remind anyone else of Dr Nick from The Simpsons?'
Probably the biggest problem with Pappas concerned the eventual sale of the team. A quick World Series appearence would profit Pappas and the Sox financially, and declaring a player out for the year might get in the way. Hench stated that Pappas "never met an injury whose seriousness he couldn't minimize.". The controversy would continue until the Bosox were sold three years later.