The office of Dr. George A. Resta in downtown Washington has been closed for several weeks. The boss has been away because he is suffering from a heart ailment and, unfortunately, few of his peers have the healing qualities that made Dr. Resta one of the pioneers in the field of sports medicine.
Resta was the team physician for the Washington Senators from 1947 through 1971 and, when they moved to Texas, he served with the new club for another year. He also was the Redskins' team physician. 1952 through 1971, and his dual role kept him hopping.
From his home on Fort Baker Drive on Southeast Washington the doctor's voice sounded weak and grew stronger only when he reminisced about some of his "boys" - the athletes he treated through the years.
The doctors built his home, a two-story brick and colonial frame house, in 1949. "The biggest dividend I ever got," he said "was that my porch overlooked the new (RFK) stadium."
It was appropriate that Resta had the stadium in his backyard. He spent enough time there. He attended every Senators' home game and all of the Redskin games at home and on the road."
Resta, a native of Louisville, played halfback in high school and at the University of Louisville before turning to medicine. His cluttered office on I Street NW had a picture of a U.S. Army band assembled in front of a building at West Point.
The leader was Col. Francis E. Resta, bandmaster of the U.S. Army for many years. The doctor once aspired to be a musician and kept the photograph of his uncle as a reminder of perhaps a more uncomplicated life that could have been his.
Resta says he became "addicted" to sports medicine and its possibilites training in orthopedic surgery under Dr. George E. Bennett, chief of orthopedics at Johns Hopkins. The two made contributions to sports medicine.
"I haven't any great healing powers," Resta once said. "We (doctors) are constantly learning about athletic injuries and although many are peculiar to the athlete, there is always a common area and we learn to treat a nonathletic patient."
Resta's fame spread thoughout the sports world. He had many patients from other clubs, including Minnie Minoso and Nellie Fox of the Chicago White Sox.
Resta rarely used pain-killers or the athletes. A powerfully built man with the handshake of a longshoreman, Resta was a firm believer in the power of the body to heal itself - with a little medical help.
He was annoyed in January, 1965, because Sonny Jurgenson took novocaine shots in California so he could play in the Pro Bowl.
"We don't use novocaine on the Redskins as a practice," Resta said.
Later, Jurgensen took his wounded knees to other specialists and Resta was distressed - not only because of a lack of faith in his professional ability but also because the doctor felt he had been betrayed by one of his boys.
Through the years, Resta had a medical open-door policy. He treated the families of the atheles, his old friends and anybody recommended to him - and often without recompense. He had an aversion, that exasperated his secretaries and his family, to sending out a bill.
His relaxation was the horses. He loved racing.Whenever he went to Florida to give the Senators their annual physicals, he always came back looking pale. There is no sun at night racing.