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Former Herald writer broadens his horizons

Ibach is part owner of baseball league

Ibach is part owner of baseball league

November 20, 2007|By LARRY YANOS

The tables have turned for Bob Ibach.

As a Morning Herald sports writer and general reporter in 1969 and 1970, he was the inquisitive reporter asking the tough questions.

Now, as part owner of the Continental Baseball League, he gets to answer them.

The 59-year-old Ibach, who serves as director of operations and communications for the CBL, has been involved in sports his entire life, but still remembers the Hub City.

The Florida resident says the journalistic skills he learned in Hagerstown set the foundation for his professional working career.

Since 1995, he has been president of Ibach and Associates, a public-relations firm based near Chicago. He also has written five books, worked as public relations director for the Chicago Cubs, served as Senior Vice-President for Kemper Sports for six years and embarked on sundry other duties.

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Last year, he expanded his sports involvement as he and longtime friend Ron Baron became part owners of the Continental Baseball League - a mixture of Class AA and Class A players competing in an independent league.

"He said he had a vision of starting a professional baseball league and asked if I'd be interested in joining him in the venture," Ibach added. "We started this past season with four teams and we hope to expand next season. We're looking at the Northern Virginia, Southern Maryland and Southern Pennsylvania market. We would have two divisions and they would play in the postseason for the league championship."

The University of Maryland journalism student spent his early working days in Hagerstown as a summer intern and later as a full-time employee.

Born and raised in Bronx, New York, Ibach and his family moved to Rockville, Md. in 1957.

"I was jack of all trades in Hagerstown," Ibach recalled. "I was hired as a sports writer, but I remember one time a fire broke out downtown in the middle of the night and I was the first reporter on the scene - notebook in hand. I learned a lot of early skills in Hagerstown, a lot of diversity. That really helped me later in life."

Ibach said he enjoyed writing news stories in Hagerstown but his passion was, and remains, sports.

"I remember I went down to a Washington Senators' game and spent some time in the dugout with (Manager) Ted Williams and (Coach) Nellie Fox, who was from Chambersburg, Pa. For a college student, that was huge, exciting. I was hooked for life.

"I've met some interesting folks. It's funny. Some I met early in life returned to my life much later."

Ibach graduated from the University of Maryland in January 1971 with degrees in journalism and english. He worked part-time for the Washington Post, then moved to the Baltimore Sun, where he eventually covered college sports and the city's three professional teams - the Orioles, Bullets and Colts.

In the summer of 1979, Ibach was named sports editor of the Philadelphia Journal and remained there until the paper folded.

In 1982, Dallas Green - who managed the Philadelphia Phillies to the 1980 World Series title - asked Ibach to join him as public relations director with the Cubs.

"I had just finished a book on Tates Locke (the former college basketball coach) and I was looking for a job," Ibach recalls. "It was perfect timing, I took the job."

Ibach ended his tenture with the Cubs in 1989 and decided to accept the job with Kemper Sports.

"I was still traveling, but not as much," Ibach said. "At that point in my life, I wanted to spend more time at home with my wife (Vera), daughter (Kelsey) and son (Kevin)."

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