Howard C. Eyth, 92, athletic director at McDonogh

April 22, 2001|By Jackie Powder | Jackie Powder,SUN STAFF

Howard C. "Dutch" Eyth, a former athletic director at McDonogh School, where he taught and coached for more than 40 years, died Friday of cancer at his home in Parkville. A prominent figure in area sports organizations who influenced generations of athletes, Mr. Eyth was 92.

A star college football and baseball player, Mr. Eyth joined the staff of McDonogh in 1931 after graduating from Carnegie Tech, now Carnegie-Mellon University. He gained national recognition in 1930 for running 75 yards to score a touchdown against the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame, coached by the legendary Knute Rockne.

"When you talk about Dutch, you have to say that he was a very gentle person, and a passionate person -- passionate about teaching, passionate about the quality of his team and the quality of their play, of their sportsmanship and everything that went into a good team, not just the score," said Herbert E. Wilgis, who played for Mr. Eyth on McDonogh's 1951 and 1952 varsity football teams.

"Generations of McDonogh students remember him," said Mr. Wilgis, chairman of McDonogh's board of trustees. "He was one of the most popular figures on campus, and when people go back for reunions, the one person you want to see is Dutch."

Born in Butler, Pa., Mr. Eyth graduated from Mars High School in 1927, where he excelled in a number of sports. He played varsity football during his four years at Carnegie Tech, and was named by Rockne to Notre Dame's All-Opponents team in 1930. In college he also played basketball and was an All-American baseball player, traveling on a touring team to South America.

A longtime Riderwood resident, Mr. Eyth started at McDonogh coaching football, baseball and basketball, and teaching algebra. He became the school's athletic director in 1945, coordinating McDonogh's athletic programs from elementary through high school. He continued to coach in his new position, which he held until his retirement nearly 30 years later.

In 1953, Mr. Eyth coached McDonogh's varsity football team to an undefeated, championship season.

"If you played for Dutch, you did it right," said Dick Working, a former football and baseball coach at McDonogh with Mr. Eyth. "You dressed right, you talked right, and he was very strict about behavior on and off the field."

His former players say Mr. Eyth tempered his demands with compassion.

"His criticism never embarrassed anybody, and he never belittled anybody for making a mistake," said Dr. Albert H Dudley, a former chairman of McDonogh's board of trustees, who played football for Mr. Eyth in the 1930s. Mr. Eyth also coached three of Mr. Dudley's sons and a grandson.

Although he had a talent for coaching and playing several sports, his favorite was baseball.

More than 400 people attended Mr. Eyth's retirement dinner, and McDonogh created a sports award and named a baseball field in his honor.

Mr. Eyth played semiprofessional baseball in Baltimore and was an official for the Eastern Association of Intercollegiate Football for 25 years. He officiated at four Army-Navy games.

He devoted much of his time to the development of the Maryland Scholastic Association, and served as its president in 1955. His son, Howard C. Eyth Jr. of Berlin, said his father was especially proud of his efforts in the racial integration of high school sports in the 1950s.

Mr. Eyth was one of the founders of the Baltimore chapter of the National Football Foundation and Hall of Fame, and in 1961 served as its first president. He received its Service to Football award in 1975.

A Mass of Christian burial will be held at 10 a.m. tomorrow at St. Charles Borromeo Church, 101 Church Lane in Pikesville,

Mr. Eyth also is survived by his wife of 68 years, the former Dorothy Sample, of Parkville; a daughter, Rosemary Orendorff of Towson; a sister, Ruth Dippery of Annapolis; seven grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

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