A little under four years ago, when I first started talking about Frank Boucher on this site, never in my wildest dreams did I expect anyone from the Frank Boucher family to read what I was writing. After all, while I knew Frank Boucher had children, they, like Frank and his wife Agnes, had to have passed.
Two years ago, I received an email from Boucher’s great great-nephew, who just happened to stumble upon this site after doing a Google search on Frank Boucher. From that email, I was put in touch with the matriarch of the Frank Boucher family, in Frankie Baird, who is Frank Boucher’s eldest granddaughter.
Over the course of the last two years, through my communications with Frankie, I have had the honor to share several Frank Boucher stories and family pictures on this website. For new readers who are unaware of my previous articles on Frank Boucher, you can read them all here:
Don’t Let History Be Forgotten! Time for The Rangers to Finally Honor The Greatest Ranger Ever, Frank Boucher
Frank Boucher Update: The Boucher Family Shares Exclusive Pictures/Heirlooms From Frank Boucher’s Career, The Latest Update on Trying To Get The Rangers To Notice The Greatest Ranger Of Them All, The Frank Boucher Award & More
For the last four years, I have been on a one-man campaign in trying to get the Rangers to honor Frank Boucher and hang his number 7 jersey in the rafters of MSG. In this time, I have talked to several people at the Garden or affiliated with the Rangers, and I’m always met with the similar response – “It’s too late and nobody will care.” I told these people that the Boucher family cares, but my pleas fell on deaf ears.
Now, many of you who know me solely through social media, might be thinking, “Why doesn’t he just shut up about this already?” In fact, I know some of you openly say it! However, as the old generation passes on, it is up to the younger generation to carry the memories or all the history & legacy is forgotten. This is a topic I feel passionate about, and if I don’t talk about Frank Boucher, who will? Certainly not the New York Rangers.
Over the last two years, I have tried to put Frankie Baird in contact with people with the Rangers, but nothing ever materialized from it. During these last two years, I have emailed with Frankie Baird off and on, as she would share Frank Boucher stories with me.
Recently, as seen in the photo above, I visited Frank Boucher’s grave during my trip to Ottawa. I was hoping to meet up with Frankie during my detour in Kemptville, but things came up. At the very least, I was able to show her that one fan still cares and won’t give up on trying to get Frank Boucher his due. I was also able to share this picture with Frankie:
As Frankie strolled down memory lane with me, we started talking about the Rangers honoring Vic Hadfield. While Hadfield was a great Ranger, he wasn’t Frank Boucher, nor left the same impression or legacy on the franchise.
Frankie Baird, who is now 70 years old, realizes that I’m just one fan. While I can drum up a lot of noise, at the end of the day, I’m just another customer in the eyes of the New York Rangers.
It is the goal of both Frankie Baird & I, that through this following letter, the Rangers will wake up and realize that the family of Frank Boucher is out there. We both hope that the Rangers take notice that there are real people involved. There are a ton of Boucher family members that would love nothing more than to see the Rangers honor Frank Boucher. It is one thing for me to write something, it’s another for the family to finally speak out.
The following letter comes from Frankie Baird, the eldest granddaughter of Frank Boucher:
To Whom it may concern:
For many years I have thought about the fact that my grandfather, Frank Boucher, has had his #7 jersey retired by the New York Rangers, but is not being honoured in Madison Square Garden. Why is his jersey not hanging in the rafters? I remember the night that #7 was retired. My Dad, Frank’s only son, accepted the Jersey posthumously in MSG. It was a special night, and for many years, I assumed my grandfather’s jersey would be in that place of honour. No offense to Rod Gilbert, I’m glad his is there; however, I don’t understand why Frank Boucher’s isn’t.
Frank Boucher joined the original New York Rangers in their inaugural season, 1926. He is one of hockey’s legends, playing, coaching and acting as General Manager for the Rangers from 1926-1955, and has been in the Hockey Hall of Fame for years.
I grew up hearing about New York and knew how Frank and our grandma, Aggie, loved their life in New York. His success as a player, coach and GM is well documented. Pick up any book on hockey history and you will find Frank Boucher mentioned. Frank wrote a great book, “When the Rangers Were Young” and it tells of the early years of hockey in the NHL and in New York. He was a humble man, but hard working and always thinking of new ways to improve the game (eg., the red line, pulling the goalie).
We have been remiss, as a family, in not asking for this small gesture from the New York Rangers and Madison Square Garden. We are a large extended family, and we remember and love Frank Boucher. It saddens us that he is all but forgotten in New York. His immediate descendants include six grandchildren (one grandson, died at age 41), 15 great grandchildren, and 19 great-great grandchildren. In the family tree, descending from Frank’s siblings, there are dozens of grand nieces and nephews.
Frank’s third grandchild, my sister, Bridget, remembers that she was in high school before she even realized that there was something special about Frank Boucher’s career. He was a very humble man and never bragged, and because there were so many hockey people around our house in the off season, it all just seemed normal to us. (I felt like I knew Lester Patrick, the Cook brother’s, Stan Fischler, all these names of managers, players, sports writers that we heard so often from our grandpa.)
It was Bridget’s job in the winter, when Frank and Aggie were away for the hockey season, to polish the trophies that were on the staircase, as well as in a chest in our house that burned down, the winter of 1966. I felt so guilty, as a 17 year old, reading the sports page the next day about Frank Boucher’s trophies being lost in a fire. I had walked right past all these trophies as I lead my sisters and brother out of the burning house. It was such a relief when my Poppa called and told me not to worry, all that mattered was that we all got out safely.
Bridget also was so disappointed when she learned that the Rangers had renamed the Frank Boucher Trophy. Bridget remembers the year Adam Graves won the Frank Boucher trophy; he was her daughter, Katie’s, favourite player. A Ranger fan, Katie’s room was plastered with posters, articles and pictures of the Rangers. It hit home that another generation of grandchildren would appreciate the accomplishments of their famous Great Grandpa.
In Bridget’s words: “I personally think that Frank Boucher was extremely well rounded as an elite player, coach, manager, and commissioner (Canadian Western Junior Hockey League). As much as he loved the Rangers, I think the Rangers were lucky to have him. His ease of speaking to the press probably helped them a great deal when they first entered the League, and basically everything he did would have helped them to become a successful franchise. He helped build the New York team that has thrived for so many years.”
Frank Boucher’s first great grandchild, my son, Rod, was born on Frank’s 70th birthday on October 7. Frank was so excited, not only about the birth of his first great grandchild, but also about Rod being born amid all these #7’s, his lucky number. My two oldest children, Rod and Angie, have fond memories of their Great Grandpa Frank coming over most days of the week to play with them. They were precious to each other.
Although we think our Poppa would feel slighted that Rod Gilbert’s jersey is holding that place of honour for #7 at Madison Square Garden, we don’t think he would have lobbied on his own behalf, for his sweater. He was not a man who sought recognition, but we always saw how very gracious he was when he received that recognition.
For we who loved Frank Boucher, it is our hope that we will see the day that our grandfather is recognized for his contribution to the New York Rangers and that we will see that Frank Boucher #7 hanging in Madison Square Garden.
Frankie (Boucher) Baird
I would like to thank Frankie Baird for writing this letter. I’m hoping Ranger fans bombard the Rangers with this letter, forcing the team to answer in one way or another.
Don’t let history be forgotten.
Long Live Frank Boucher!
@NYCTHEMIC on twitter