NCGA Mourns Passing of Former Board Member Eddie LeBaron
April 1, 2015
Eddie LeBaron, a former NCGA Board of Directors member and chairman of Poppy Holding Inc, died of natural causes Wednesday at the age of 85 in Stockton.
An avid golfer and member at North Ridge Country Club, LeBaron joined the NCGA Board in 1996, serving until 2002. In 2000, he joined the Poppy Hills Inc. Board, eventually serving as chairman in 2008.
Along with his giving to the game in Northern California, LeBaron, who was born in San Rafael, had stints serving as President of both the Nevada and Georgia State Golf Associations.
Prior to committing his energy to golf, the 5-foot-7, 160-pound LeBaron was known in circles as the “Littlest General”, due not only to his size but also his military record and play on the gridiron.
While at the College of the Pacific (now University of Pacific) in Stockton, LeBaron starred at quarterback, leading the 1949 Tigers to an 11-0 record and a No.10 ranking in the final Associated Press poll. He’d finish sixth that year in the Heisman Trophy balloting.
“Size was never a factor for me,” said LeBaron in a 2008 article in the Washington Times. “And I don’t think size was a factor for the other players and coaches. Most of the guys I played with thought that if you could do it, you did it.”
In 1950, LeBaron accepted a commission in the U.S. Marine Corps, which led to nine months in Korea. Seven of the nine months in Korea he’d be on the front line, getting wounded twice. In a battle at Korea’s Heartbreak Ridge, LeBaron, left cover under heavy fire to contact the forward observation post of a mortar platoon, in sight of the enemy. After an assaulting rifle platoon in his area lost its commander, he took charge and resumed the attack. For his heroic efforts, he was awarded the Bronze Star.
Following his return to the States, LeBaron resumed his football career. Drafted by Washington Redskins, he would earn NFL Rookie of the Year honors in 1952. During his 11-year NFL career, which was split between the Redskins and Dallas Cowboys, he’d once lead the league in passing (1958) and was selected to four Pro Bowls.
Following his retirement from the Cowboys in 1963, LeBaron served as the general manager of the Atlanta Falcons (1977-1982) and the team’s executive vice president/chief operating officer (1982-1985).
Later in his career, LeBaron was also an attorney, practicing with the Pillsbury, Madison and Sutro firm in Sacramento.
He was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 1980 and was elected into the Bay Area Sports Hall of Fame in 2004.
Services will be held Tuesday April 14th, 11 am at Morris Chapel at University of the Pacific. UOP is located at 3601 Pacific Avenue in Stockton 95211.