Earlier this month, Long Beach State paid tribute to longtime head athletic trainer Dan Bailey with the dedication of the Dan Bailey Sports Medicine Center.
The late Bailey worked at LBSU for 36 years, including 34 as the university’s head trainer, earning him a 2008 induction into the school’s Hall of Fame.
But athletic department officials understandably felt that a more permanent tribute needed to be paid to Bailey, and so renamed the training facility where he spent a third of a century.
“This is a day that’s long overdue, but I’m so glad that it’s here,” LBSU athletic director Andy Fee said.
The event was emceed by Wayne Stickney, who is not only a senior member of the school’s athletic director staff, but also a former 49er athlete who was treated by Bailey on several occasions.
Among those in attendance was former Long Beach State basketball coach Seth Greenberg, who flew back into town.
“He didn’t care if it was Lucius Harris or a walk on,” Greenberg said. “He genuinely cared about every single person who walked through the door.”
Greenberg had a tremendous amount of respect for Bailey, who was an imposing figure. Greenberg said that Bailey would occasionally step in front of him when he was ripping an official and stop him from crossing the line.
“He looked tough, but he was a teddy bear,” Greenberg said.
Bailey’s wife Kay was on hand, as were their children, Joe, Ryan, and Dana as well as several grandkids. Ryan Bailey was a four-time Olympic water polo player but all three of the Bailey children grew up on the courts and fields of the university and were witnesses to several generations of 49er history.
“The name on the building means that we get free treatment for life, right?” quipped Joe.
He told a story of his father inventing a soft foam cast that could be molded to an athlete and then heated — the Baileys routinely had two or three 49er football players in the kitchen waiting on a cast to come out of the oven.
Eventually when word got out, Hollywood stuntmen wanted full-body casts made. Lacking an oven that was person-sized, Bailey would take the stuntmen to Avenue 3 pizza and drink beer with them while they waited for the casts to come out of the pizza oven.
Joe thanked the university for the respect paid to his father.
“We’re honored that his legacy will live on,” he said.
The event was well attended with a few hundred friends, family members, and former athletes on hand to celebrate Bailey.