Leo W. `Bo' Eibner, 72, coach inducted into Wrestling Hall of Fame

July 05, 2004|By Laura Loh | Laura Loh,SUN STAFF

Leo W. "Bo" Eibner, a wrestling coach and science teacher who was inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame, died Thursday at Good Samaritan Hospital of complications from diabetes. The Hamilton resident was 72.

Mr. Eibner was born in Baltimore and raised in Hamilton. As a teenager, he coached basketball in the Gardenville Catholic Youth Organization - his first taste of what would become a vocation.

After graduating from City College in 1949, he was drafted by the Army. He was stationed at a mental hospital in Tokyo, where he pitched in Army baseball games and served as an escort to visitors including New York Yankees star Mickey Mantle.

After his discharge in 1954 with the rank of corporal, Mr. Eibner attended the University of Baltimore, where he played baseball and took up wrestling, a sport he had first tried in high school.

A heavyset 6 foot 3, Mr. Eibner had natural talent as a wrestler. Despite his lack of experience, he placed second in a regional competition that pitted him against wrestlers from Maryland, Virginia and Pennsylvania. In later years, he won top honors at least once.

Mr. Eibner's baseball abilities attracted the attention of pro scouts, who asked him to try out for the former Philadelphia Athletics. But Mr. Eibner preferred to finish his education and find work. He graduated with a business degree in 1957.

The next year, Mr. Eibner began teaching at Sparrows Point High School in Edgemere. He also married Elsie Adams, whom he had known since childhood, and the couple settled in the neighborhood where they had grown up.

Mr. Eibner started Sparrows Point's first wrestling team in 1958. That original group of wrestlers remained close to its coach throughout his life.

In 1959, he founded the Maryland Junior Wrestling League with fellow teacher and best friend Jerry McGrath. Mr. Eibner served as the league's president until 1964.

He began teaching in 1970 at what was then General John Stricker Junior High in Dundalk. Although he had not grown up there, he became invested in the community.

"He loved Dundalk because of the people," said a son, Todd Eibner of Rosedale. "He shopped and ate there, did his banking there."

Mr. Eibner was a prolific wrestling and baseball coach. He led the Hereford junior wrestling club to a state championship in 1975. He also coached Little League and baseball teams at Patapsco and Dundalk high schools, and in 1983 led the Dundalk team to a state championship.

After he retired as a wrestling coach, Mr. Eibner worked as an official in Baltimore County high school wrestling meets from 1975 to 1980. In 1987, he was inducted into Baltimore County and state wrestling halls of fame.

Mr. Eibner retired from teaching in the mid-1990s when his wife received a diagnosis of cancer. She died in 1996.

Near the end of his life, he remained involved in the local wrestling scene. For the past two years, he assisted coaches at Overlea and Sparrows Point high schools.

Last year, he was inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame for his lifetime service. His prowess as a pitcher during his college years earned him a place in the University of Baltimore's new Athletic Hall of Fame in April.

In addition to enjoying his work with young people, Mr. Eibner loved to collect baseball cards and go fishing.

On Saturday, former students and athletes paid their respects to Mr. Eibner at a memorial service in Dundalk. Many brought a memento that he used to give high school seniors: a penny inscribed with the year they were graduating. Several people lined up to put the pennies in his casket.

Mr. Eibner also is survived by another son, Greg Eibner of Bel Air; two brothers, Joseph Eibner of Fallston and Raymond Eibner of Perry Hall; a sister, Charlotte Rossi of Pasadena; and two grandchildren.

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