Son of FD legend breaks through as rising NHL talent

AP Photo Max Jones (49), the son of Fort Dodge legend Mary (Fischbach) Bailey, works the puck up the ice for Anaheim during an NHL game in the regular season.

Fort Dodge Senior High Hall of Famer Mary (Fischbach) Bailey has enjoyed her son’s rise through the hockey ranks and his arrival with the NHL’s Anaheim Ducks.

Bailey’s son, Max Jones, got a late call-up this season and scored two goals.

The first of his career, Bailey nearly missed.

“It’s so late when they start playing (on the west coast; Bailey lives in Rochester, Michigan),” she said. “It was winding down to the last 30 seconds of the game … I grabbed my tooth brush and started watching the clock. I just couldn’t go to bed quite yet.

“I saw him get the pass and he scored. I just started clapping. I was really happy for him. It took him a few games to get acclimated (to the NHL level).”

Since his call up from the San Diego Gulls, the 21-year-old Jones had gone his first 16 games without a goal. On that night, Bailey — a 1983 Fort Dodge Senior High graduate and former national champion diver for the University of Michigan — saw her son finally break through.

“All the way back to when Max was born and very young, he was a hockey player – always at the rink,” Bailey said. “He just loves to play. He’s big, fast and strong. On the ice, he’s a bugger and never stops. Off the ice, though, he’s nothing like that.”

It may seem strange for old Fort Dodge friends and neighbors of Bailey to see her two sons — Max and Mitch — at an ice rink, knowing her decorated background in the swimming pool.

Bailey lived the sport growing up, and tried her best to draw parallels to Max’s interest in hockey.

“It’s close to diving,” Fishbach laughed. “You go from natural water to a frozen-water sport. Max got on the ice three days after he turned two years old. He started competitively in 2001 (Jones was born in 1998), and everyone always thought he was older than he actually was.”

Bailey’s diving career as a Dodger remains legendary to this day. Then Mary Jo Fischbach, she was a four-time Big Eight conference champion and four-time state champion. She was also a four-time sectional winner, and was undefeated in competition through all four years of high school.

Bailey, who was inducted into the University of Michigan Hall of Honor in 2017, knows all about success at an elite level. She was a diver at Michigan from 1984-88. In 1988, Bailey won NCAA titles on both the one-meter and three-meter events, becoming the program’s first female NCAA national champion.

She was a seven-time NCAA All-American, receiving the honor all three years on one-meter and three-meter. Bailey was the 1988 Big Ten Diver of the Year and won four conference crowns, helping the Wolverines win the Big Ten championship in 1987 and ’88.

Bailey was also on the United States National team for 10 years, and was an alternate for the 1988 Olympic squad. She missed the Olympic team by just .81 points. In 1992, she was named to the Big Ten’s All-Decade women’s swimming and diving squad.

Bailey married Brad Jones, a former pro hockey player himself and a coach to Max and Mitch.

Bailey lived in New York for a while, then moved back to Michigan in 2005. She got remarried in 2012 to Doug Bailey, who started coaching Max.

Growing up in Iowa with four older brothers who all played mainstream sports, Bailey wasn’t really introduced to hockey until she met Brad.

“It’s funny … there is actually quite a bit of hockey in Iowa,” Bailey said. “Des Moines, Waterloo, Dubuque, Sioux City and some others.

“My kids just gravitated to the sport. Max loves every aspect of it, and so does Mitch. They loved going to the rink with their dad. Max picked it up quickly and liked to be physical like the other boys. “

Bailey, who will be celebrating her 40th year of graduating from Fort Dodge within the next five years, is excited about the possibility of returning to her roots.

“I still have friends (in Fort Dodge), but I haven’t been back for a long time,” Bailey said. “Our 40-year anniversary is in 2023, so I would like to come back for that. I loved Fort Dodge so much … there were so many great people there.

“I would love to bring the boys along with me.”

It has been a whirlwind season for Jones, who will likely be with the Ducks full-time next season. While Jones is playing with the best in the world, his mom is enjoying the ride — both up close and from afar.

“I’m very excited for him; I try to keep him grounded and keep things simple,” Bailey said. “He went pro right away, so it’s his job now (despite being just 21) … I just remind him there is always someone nipping at your skates, trying to take your job. You just have to give it your all each and every day.

“I’m just really excited for him. I wished he was in Detroit (with the Red Wings) so he’d be closer, of course. I miss my son. Hockey has always been in my life since the boys were young, and being (on the road as an NHL player) just comes with the territory. I just enjoy spending time with my kids so much, and I’m so proud of them.”