Orthopedic surgeons Champ L. Baker Jr. MD, the pioneer in sports medicine

April 11, 2022

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Champ L Baker Jr., MD, The pioneer and innovator in sports medicine and arthroscopy, he passed away on March 18 at the age of 75.

Becker earned his undergraduate and medical degrees from Louisiana State University before completing his orthopedic residency at Letterman Military Medical Center while on active duty with the U.S. Army Medical Corps, according to a news release from the Arthroscopy Society of North America. Baker’s obituary indicated that he completed his Sports Medicine Fellowship at the Hughston Clinic in 1979 before joining the staff in 1982, where he remained until his retirement.

Champ's.  Baker Jr.

Champ’s. Baker Jr.

In addition, Baker served as president of the Hughston Clinic from 1994 to 2000 and served as chairman of the Hughston Foundation’s board of directors and director of the Hughston Sports Medicine Fellowship Program, according to his obituary. Baker was also a professor of orthopedics at Tulane University School of Medicine and Georgia Medical School.

As an active member of many professional societies, his obituary noted that he has served as an officer or committee member in many societies and served as president of the American Orthopedic Association for Sports Medicine, the Southern Orthopedic Association, the Georgia Orthopedic Association, and the Georgia Shoulder and Elbow Association. He was inducted into the American Sports Medicine Association Hall of Fame and honored with the George de Rovere Award for his contribution to sports medicine education. The obituary added that Baker received the Southern Orthopedic Distinguished Award from the Southern Orthopedic Association and the President’s Challenge Award from the National Athletic Trainers Association.

Blacksmiths orthopedic specialists

Kurt b.  Spindler

Kurt b. Spindler

From my perspective, what I remember of Champ Baker is that he was a true gentleman of every person he met, both inside and outside of medicine. He was always willing to talk to anyone and help anyone [and] Instruct anyone – whether you’re a medical student, resident, fellow or associate – and for me, that was one of their own. He has been an outstanding surgeon and physician in his community, in his teams, as well as in AOSM.

Kurt b. Spindler, MD
Director of Clinical Research and Outcomes
Cleveland Clinic Florida District
Head of AOSM
Professor of Surgery, Cleveland Clinic Lerner Medicine
Results Management Evaluation Manager
Associate Director, Musculoskeletal Research Center

Champ Baker was always ready to help when asked. He was an active member of many organizations. He really enjoyed being a Sports Medicine Physician and all his involvement. His big shoes must be filled. We will all miss his presence at our meetings and activities. Champ, thank you for everything you’ve done.

Douglas W. Jackson, MD
Honorary Medical Editor, Orthopedic surgery today

I am fortunate to have been able to call Champ Baker a friend and partner of nearly 50 years. While we were from Louisiana, he also attended Louisiana State University (LSU), LSU Medical School and completed his residency at LSU Medical School.

James R.  Andrews

James R. Andrews

As it turns out, he followed me into the realm of orthotics. He was fortunate to have been a fellow in sports medicine under Dr. Jack C. Heggston in 1978, when I was an assistant at the Hughston Clinic. After this training, he became one of the true educators and innovators in the world of sports medicine. He practiced his entire career at the Hughston Clinic and succeeded Dr. Hughston as Director of the Sports Medicine and Research Endeavors Program.

He has traveled the world as an ambassador not only for the Hughston Clinic, but also as a representative of the AOSSM leadership. Throughout his life in service, he has received numerous certificates of appreciation, as well as numerous shields and awards for his service to the medical profession, his community, and his country.

He was a loving and caring family man who left behind his beloved wife Sue Ann and their numerous children and grandchildren. Champ has always greeted everyone with a smile and positive attitude.

He firmly believed in the commandment, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:39). Champ left us very soon and functioned properly until he was called home to eternal rest.

May he rest in peace.

James R. Andrews, MD
Andrews Institute

Speaking as a friend (one of many) and as a member of the sports medicine community, I can simply say that Champ was a giant, not only in his stature but also in the importance of the contributions he made to his profession, a profession to which he was completely dedicated.

His dedication to sports medicine in terms of education, mentoring and leadership has earned him a place in the coveted AOSSM Hall of Fame. In addition, I was honored to have been selected for the Robert Leach Award for Leadership in Sports Medicine in 2010, a lofty honor bestowed annually to a member of our community in recognition and appreciation for his distinguished and meritorious service to sports medicine throughout the world. Champ, as a mentor and educator, has influenced hundreds of doctors about taking better care of their patients. He has consistently emphasized that medicine is both an art and a science. Just as Dr. Heggston, his mentor, taught Champ how to make each patient feel special, he, in turn, taught this to his students, residents, and colleagues. Champ Becker has not only studied sports medicine, but has also shown how to be a compassionate and compassionate human being. He has generously donated his time to the underprivileged here in the Columbus community. What I love, perhaps more than anything, was on the sidelines in games, whether it was a local high school game or a Division I major game — it just didn’t matter.

In conclusion, I will say that Champ’s memories will live on with his wife, children and grandchildren, but also with me, all his close friends and the entire professional world who was not only influenced by him, but greatly influenced by him.

Champ, I am so grateful to know you. thanks for your friendship.

Peter A. Indelicato, MD
Professor Emeritus and Head of the Physician Team
Department of Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
University of Florida


  • AANA mourns the loss of a sports orthopedic legend Champ L. Baker Jr., MD. https://www.aana.org/AANAIMIS/Members/News/AANA-Mourns-the-Loss-of-Orthopaedic-Sports-Medicine-Legend-Champ-L-Baker-Jr-MD.aspx?WebsiteKey=10f6eed0- bcab-4019-8f57-18dad8aaf2d7. Published March 24, 2022. Accessed April 8, 2022.
  • obituary d. Champ’s. Baker Jr. https://www.dignitymemorial.com/obituaries/columbus-ga/champ-baker-10637254. Published March 19, 2022. Accessed April 8, 2022.

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