Dr. Lenox Dial Baker entered UT in 1925 as a freshman to take premed courses. He had long been interested in athletics, having served at age nine as the spring practice batboy for the New York Giants in his native Texas. At Tennessee he became a student trainer and worked as head athletic trainer with such UT stars as Roy Witt, Bobby Dodd, and Gene Hackman from 1925 to 1928. In 1929 he was ready to transfer to medical school and learned of a new medical school that was being planned at Duke University. He applied to Duke and was accepted as a student one year before the school opened. While waiting for Duke’s medical school, he studied at UNC’s medical school as a special student. He transferred to Duke in 1930 as the first medical student accepted for the opening class, and he was the first graduate of the Duke Medical School in 1934. He interned at Johns Hopkins, where he worked with sports celebrities.
He returned to Duke in 1937 and began a 35-year tenure as professor of orthopedics at Duke hospital and physician for the Athletics Department. He served as medical director of the Lenox Baker Cerebral Palsy and Crippled Children’s Hospital in Durham, which he founded in 1938 with a gift of land from Duke University. In 1971 he was chosen to lead North Carolina’s reorganized Health Services Department. He retired from the post of Duke’s Athletics Department physician in 1972.
In April 1978 he was the first nonathlete to be inducted into Duke University’s Sports Hall of Fame. He was inducted into the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame in 1983. He received the All Sports Medicine Distinguished Service Award from the American Orthopedic Society in 1989 and the Distinguished Alumni Award from the Duke University Alumni Association in 1992.