Man winds up on thin ice after taking hockey jersey

This Just In...

November 12, 1999|By Dan Rodricks

HAD THE palooka worn a Dallas Cowboys jersey with "Aikman" on the back, or a Baltimore Ravens jersey with "R. Lewis" on the back, or maybe a Chicago Bulls tank top with "Jordan" on the back, Ed Donnellan would not have paid any attention.

But the palooka wore a handsome, tricolor Baltimore Youth Hockey jersey with "Donnellan" on the back, and that's why it caught Donnellan's eye.

And that's why the palooka went to the penalty box at Central Booking.

What we have here is one of those rare events worth savoring -- a true crime comedy involving a thief who's apparently short of discretion and low of wit. He reminds me of the guy who held up a Baltimore bank while dressed in an Army field jacket with his name on the breast. And the scholar who handed a bank teller a stickup note written on his personalized deposit slip. And then there was the woman in California who went to a community anti-crime meeting wearing a dress she'd stolen from her next-door neighbor.

The hockey jersey caper came up over the weekend.

Ed Donnellan, a coach in the BYH, got his 10-year-old son, Michael, out of bed early Saturday for a hockey game at Ice World in Harford County. The Donnellans live in Northeast Baltimore. They're part of a small but passionate coterie of parents and kids ages 4 to 17 involved in ice hockey here. Michael Donnellan plays for a BYH team that competes against teams from other parts of the state. Three years ago, his parents paid $150 for two beautiful BYH jerseys -- green, black and white, with gold trim, and bearing his name across the shoulders.

Saturday morning, the jerseys could not be found.

They'd apparently been swiped from Ed Donnellan's car during a break-in two days earlier, though no one noticed at the time. "I didn't notice the jerseys were missing until about 6: 30 Saturday," Ed Donnellan says. "Michael borrowed one from another boy."

After the game in Harford County, the Donnellans went back to Baltimore for a game at the ice rink in Patterson Park. From there, they drove home, via Belair Road. It was just after 3 p.m. when Michael Donnellan yelled, "There's my jersey!"

Ed Donnellan looked.

"A guy was walking north on Belair with a backpack on and I could see `DONNELLAN' clearly on the jersey," he says. "I pulled over and confronted him."

Looking back, Donnellan thinks that was an unwise action, provocative and potentially dangerous -- especially when he realized that the palooka, who appeared to be in his early 30s, wasn't going to give up the jersey.

Oddly, he didn't run away, either. He stood there, wearing Michael Donnellan's sweet-looking jersey, insisting that he'd paid some junkie $10 for it.

"My guardian angel showed up about 20 seconds into the confrontation," Ed Donnellan says. "Officer Jacques Smith of the Northeastern District saw me and pulled over. This guy was excellent. He got me to calm down and handled the situation in a great way."

Officer Smith asked questions. He looked at Donnellan's driver's license. He compared the name on the license with the name on the hockey jersey. He found the other Donnellan hockey jersey in the palooka's backpack.

Then he arrested him.

The suspect is charged with theft. He'll probably appear before a District Court judge in a month. If the judge finds him guilty, he could be looking at more time in the penalty box.

Dylan hits right note

Bob Dylan was uncharacteristically animated -- he smiled, spoke to the audience, introduced the band -- in his performance inside the smoky Baltimore Arena on Monday night, according to fans who've seen the enigmatic man in concert several times but rarely in the Queen City of the Patapsco Drainage Basin. (That was Dylan's first show at the arena, nee Civic Center, in 20 years.) Phil Lesh, bass player of the Grateful Dead, opened, and that might explain the teens and dreadlocked 20-somethings in the audience. But the kids stayed for Dylan. "He was more animated than I've seen him in years," says longtime fan Lacey Bacon. "I think he maintains a certain kind of dignity without arrogance, cloaked in mystery." The man in black played familiar songs with a fresh approach -- "Like A Rolling Stone," "Mr. Tambourine Man," "Tombstone Blues." TJI reader Tim Rahto said of the legend's performance: "His voice rang out as crisp and clear as the autumn night air, performing a set list as varied as his career. From the bluegrassy `I Am The Man Thomas,' to the Johnny Cash classic, `Big River,' to the blues of `Love Sick,' he swung for the fences and touched all bases. When I went to see the Rolling Stones a few years ago, I left a little depressed about how great it would have been to have seen the band in 1972. I left the arena Monday night thankful it was 1999." . . . Dylan appeared thin, as usual, so that must have been his band and crew that gobbled $130 worth of pizza from Matthew's on Eastern Avenue. They made an excellent choice for their late-night meal.

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