by Frank Hyde
February 20, 1964
Dr. Harold Blaisdell
Years ago a Jamestown High School football player limped out of the Raiders' dressing room. "How's the ankle?" Coach Denton Moon queried. "Fine, just fine," the youngster beamed. "That Dr. Blaisdell sure has the gentle, magic touch."
In a way, that's the story of Doc Blaisdell's life - a life that was snuffed out in an automobile accident last night - a man whose humbleness, whose "gentle touch" was the code he lived by.
Dr. H.A. Blaisdell was an angel of mercy to the Jamestown High School football program on a volunteer basis for 30 years. "I always feared some youngster would be seriously injured and no one would be there to treat him," Doc said simply one day years ago explaining his unusual attachment to JHS grid teams.
"And he was always there to carry out his duties," a choked up Al Ayers said this morning. Ayers, assistant football coach at JHS for three decades, had known Dr. Blaisdell for 35 years. "He was the finest, kindest man I have ever met," Ayers said without reservation.
Stories of Doc Blaisdell are legion among the coaching fraternity at JHS. Doc always attended the home and road games and it was his presence on the JHS bench that often pointed up the grim determination of this dedicated man.
Numerous times, Doc was hard pressed to make it, but arrive on time he did. Once he was attending a medical conference in Baltimore. "I didn't believe I could arrive in Jamestown in time for this particular game," Doc said later under prodding. Like most men of his shining silk, Doc talked about everything in sports except his untiring role as volunteer physician to the boys. "He was like a caged animal," a colleague told the writer when Doc retired as football physician in 1954. "He paced and paced and finally blurted out: 'I must try to get to that game, even if I arrive late."
The trip from Baltimore was a classic. It included taxi at Baltimore, air to Philly, train to Pittsburgh, train to Warren and rented car from Warren to Jamestown. "I didn't know about that one," Ayers said this morning, " but that would be Doc, never a word about his own problems."
A late rush from Cleveland to Meadville is another classic they tell of Doc's faithfulness to JHS gridders. This time he went by taxi to the train in Cleveland, arrived in Youngstown, sprinted to catch a bus for Meadville and whirled up to the gate in a taxi at Meadville just under the wire.
Ayers did recall another of Doc's historical races against time in order to be around his "boys" as he referred to JHS players. "We were playing at Tonawanda," Ayers related. "Doc was stuck with appointments but he dashed out of his office, rushed to his own plane and flew to Niagara Falls, where he took a taxi to the field in Tonawanda, arriving just as we kicked off."
When Jamestown played at Manlius during World war II, Doc was stuck at the office again, but never hesitated. Sliding behind the wheel of his car, he made the long drive, rushing in once more near kickoff time.
"He was always there," Ayers added. "And except for the times when he made mad dashes to arrive in time, he would be on hand to bandage ankles and after the game would come in to inspect every player who may have been jarred up or injured even slightly."
Faith in Doc Blaisdell's steady hands was far deeper ingrained in JHS players than physical repairs.
Like the time Doc invited the team for a plane ride, offering to take them up, one-by-one, if they showed up at the airport. That was during the early days of aviation and confidence in air travel was shaky, to say the least, especially flights by private plane. But this was Doc Blaisdell who could do no wrong as far as JHS players were concerned. "I thought a few boys would be there," Doc laughed later. He was one surprised doctor when the entire first and second squads stormed the airport, yelping for their turn in the plane high over Jamestown. Doc permitted one youngster to hold the stick for a moment and right there a medical and promising football career almost ended. The boy "froze" and nearly put the plan in a spin.
Back in 1954 when Doc turned his volunteer duties over to Dr. James Goodell, we closed a column with; "So Dr. Blaisdell, man of medicine and humanitarianism unexcelled - hands his little black bag over to a successor he has selected with the painstaking care of a man who is yielding his life's possessions." Those words ended a story 10 years ago. They can end one now except with a darker, more somber meaning. But men and boys who brushed elbows with Doc Blaisdell know that somewhere there's more light, more enrichment because he has arrived.
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