One of two Toronto Maple Leafs hockey players to have had his number, 6, retired by the team. (The other is Bill Barilko's No. 5; the Leafs have also honoured the National Hockey League-wide retiring of Wayne Gretzky's No. 99.)
Ace was a hotshot right-winger who came out of nowhere to lead the league in scoring in the 1928-29 season, the first Maple Leaf to take the scoring title. He played on the Leafs' first Stanley Cup-winning team in 1932. He was wowing crowds and establishing himself as the major reason to go see hockey games at Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto until his career ended suddenly in 1933.
The Leafs were playing a rough game at Boston Garden against the Bruins when star Bruin defenceman Eddie Shore was levelled by a check by the Leafs' King Clancy. Shore got mad and once he was back on his feet, he targetted the first Leaf who crossed his path: young Ace Bailey.
Bailey was essentially cold-cocked. He took Shore's blindside hit and went down, slamming his head on the ice. Helmets in those days, for the very few who wore any protection at all (Bailey didn't), weren't what they are now. He suffered a serious concussion and was never able to play again.
Hockey salaries also weren't what they are now. The team organized an exhibition game between the Leafs and the best players from the rest of the tiny league, with the proceeds going to their fallen player: the first NHL all-star game. Eddie Shore played, and he and Bailey shook hands at centre ice before the game.
Irvine "Ace" Bailey, who was born July 3, 1903 and died April 7, 1992, should not be confused with Garnet "Ace" Bailey, a hockey player and scout who died in a terrorist attack on Sept. 11, 2001.