By Peter Jackel
RACINE, Wis. (Journal Times) — A remarkable career in medicine by a beloved Racine orthopedic surgeon had its origin nearly 50 years ago, when 12-year-old Myron Mikaelian was reading The Baseball Life of Sandy Koufax.
The Scholastic paperback told the story of the legendary left-hander for the Los Angeles Dodgers, who was forced to retire at the age of 30 after the 1966 season by arthritis in his pitching elbow. And, as a young Mikaelian read about the pills and monotonous treatments Koufax had to endure just to make his next pitching assignment, he was captivated.
“He was having multiple orthopedic issues and he sought the care of Dr. Robert Kerlan, who was the orthopedic surgeon of the Dodgers,” Mikaelian said. “It spiked my interest in orthopedic surgery and sports medicine and how a doctor could have a relationship with athletes.”
After 29 years of practice in Racine, Mikaelian retired from Ascension All Saints Hospital on August 2, with Koufax again influencing that decision. Mikaelian, who turns 61 in September, simply wanted to leave when he was on top of his game, just as Koufax did when he won his third Cy Young Award in 1966.
“I always felt in regard to people’s careers that you only have relevancy for a certain period of time,” Mikaelian said. “And I always respected people who could get out on top — people like Sandy Koufax.”