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Mark C. N. Sullivan is an editor at a Massachusetts university. He is married and the father of three children.

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Irish Elk
Thursday, September 11, 2008  

Bailey's smile, heart drive Ace's Place

Scott Burnside, ESPN.com, September 7, 2006:

So many stories, so many laughs, such a big life.

So let us start, then, with those who did not know Ace Bailey at all. The ones like 4-year-old Isabel Santiago, concentrating on extracting the jelly from a donut; trailing her intravenous tubes and medical machinery behind her as though they were a feather boa or a toy of some kind.

Neither Isabel nor her mother, Donna, had any clue about the man for whom the playroom at Boston's Floating Hospital For Children is named when they wandered in for the first time a few days ago. They still don't. Not really. What Donna knows is that, almost immediately, this 6,500-square-foot play area, with its bright lights and wide-open space and comfy couches and chairs and toys, has become a kind of sanctuary for Isabel. Diagnosed with leukemia, Isabel will undergo treatment at Floating Hospital for at least the next month. If the hospital has become her temporary home, then Ace's Place has become the place to come to forget that that is so...

* * *

The Ace Bailey Children's Fund

* * *

~ "THE LAST WORD," AL STRACHAN, Toronto Sun, September 13, 2001:

Ace Bailey was one of those outgoing, affable guys who always had a smile and a story, and it would not be uncommon for both to be evident well into the wee hours.

It would not be a slight to say -- and it would not be anything that Ace was ashamed of -- that he came by his ruddy complexion honestly.

He was certainly not an alcoholic, but he had a zest for life. As one of his many friends said yesterday, "If ever the word 'Runyonesque' described a character, it was Ace."

He was so full of enthusiasm that he wanted no day to end, and as long as there was mirth and merriment in the vicinity, Ace Bailey wanted to be a part of it. In fact, he created a lot of it.

He was one of those guys who rarely got angry, but when he did, it was both appropriate and a harbinger of trouble.

There was, for instance, the time that Ace got on an elevator to hear two guys he didn't know bad-mouthing a friend of his. When the doors opened in the lobby, Bailey strolled out as if nothing had happened, leaving two people on the floor bruised and moaning.

He was Wayne Gretzky's first minder in professional hockey... It was Bailey who made sure no one messed with the young Gretzky, a role in which he excelled.

There was no bluster, no bravado about Ace Bailey. But if it was the time for action, he would be the first into the breech.

That's why, in the hockey village today, they're saying that Ace Bailey was probably dead when his plane, the one that started Monday's carnage, ploughed into the World Trade Center.

They knew Ace Bailey. He was one of them. And they know that there is simply no way that he would have sat passively while a terrorist commandeered his plane and crashed it.

We'll never know if that was the case.

* * *

~ "ANY WAY YOU STACK IT, THIS ACE WAS A CARD," John Powers, Boston Globe, September 18, 2001:

He was already Ace when he arrived on Causeway Street in the autumn of 1968, a grinning, irrepressible man-child fresh up from Hershey. Hockey had already had one Ace Bailey, a Maple Leaf whose career was ended violently by a Bruin (Hall of Fame defenseman Eddie Shore). But this Ace emerged from a deck all his own.

"Who is this kid?" a couple of veterans asked Milt Schmidt skeptically as they watched Bailey banging around his betters at his first training camp. "Don't worry about him," Schmidt assured them. "He's going to be all right."

Bailey was rambunctious and exuberant, Sinden recalls, an ideal recruit for the Big, Bad Bruins, who were an infantry platoon masquerading as a hockey team.

They were Chief and Cash and Turk and Cheesie and Espie and Bobby, a band of spoked-B brethren who scrapped and bled and drank and won together. And Bailey was the Krazy Glue that kept them tight by keeping them loose.

"From Day 1, Ace was full of life and full of fun," remembers Gerry Cheevers. "He sat in the corner with Johnny Pie [McKenzie] and myself and we had a thousand laughs."...

Bailey was wing commander of the Black Aces, the spare line that wore black practice jerseys and skated odd shifts on odd nights.

"He wore out a couple of pairs of hockey pants sliding up and down the Bruins' bench," the team media guide reported after the 1970-71 season. "Did he fret about it? Not so you'd notice it."

Nobody had more fun not playing than Ace Bailey did. That year, he was twice thrown out with game misconducts before he'd gotten into the game.

When Bailey broke his ankle two months before the end of the 1969-70 season, he kept coming to practices and games, kept traveling with the squad. When Bobby Orr scored The Goal against the Blues that brought the Stanley Cup to Boston after 29 barren years, Bailey was standing in street clothes behind the net.

"Stupid me, I went hobblin' like hell for the dressing room when I could have gone out on the ice and celebrated," he said with a laugh two decades later. "All I could think was, 'Hey, get the suit off and get to the champagne.' "...

The old spoked-B brethren scattered, but they came back Friday to Our Lady of the Assumption Church - Bobby and Cheesie and Turk and Cash and Johnny Pie among them - to mourn their rambunctious, exuberant comrade who never completely grew up.

"Uncle Ace is in heaven now," concluded Lauren Pothier, Bailey's 4-year-old niece, "teaching the angels how to talk like Donald Duck."

* * *

Your Spirit's Alive - Dropkick Murphys


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