06/18 14:18 CDT Bahr, last living member of team that upset England, is dead
Bahr, last living member of team that upset England, is dead
By RONALD BLUM
AP Sports Writer
When Walter Bahr walked off the field in Brazil after the famous United States
victory over England at the 1950 World Cup, he didn't expect to become a soccer
Known for many years as the father of two NFL placekickers, Bahr regained
prominence in his own right when the Americans returned to soccer's showcase in
1990 after a 40-year-absence.
The last living player from that 1950 team, Bahr died Monday in Boalsburg,
Pennsylvania, according to granddaughter Lindsey D. Bahr, a film writer for The
Associated Press. His death was caused by complications that resulted from a
"I say the older I get, the more famous I become," Bahr told the AP in 2010. "I
wasn't for famous for 50 years."
A team of soccer unknowns, the U.S. won 1-0 over an England side that included
Alf Ramsey and Tom Finney, who earned knighthoods.
"Walter Bahr was one of the greatest people to ever be part of soccer in the
United States," former U.S. Soccer Federation President Sunil Gulati said. "Not
only was he a pioneer and a fantastic ambassador for our game over many years,
he was a true gentleman."
Bahr and his teammates were portrayed in the 2005 movie "The Game of Their
"A true legend in soccer in the United States," USSF President Carlos Cordeiro
said. "His contribution to one of the most iconic moments in U.S. soccer
history was only part of a lifetime of selfless contributions to the game. As a
coach, a mentor, a friend, and a colleague, Walter touched the lives of so many
people in our sport, ensuring a legacy that will last for generations."
Quick with a story, a laugh and a smile, Bahr started all three U.S. matches at
the 1950 World Cup. A defender who scored one goal in 19 international
appearances, made his international debut in a World Cup qualifier against Cuba
in 1949, joining a national team that had lost its seven previous international
matches by a combined 45-2. The Americans tied Cuba 1-1 in his debut, lost to
Mexico, then beat Cuba as Bahr scored and earned a trip to the 1950 tournament
The U.S. wasted a late lead to Spain in its opener and lost 3-1. England was
coming off a win over Chile.
"We knew we weren't in the same class as the English team," Bahr said. "But
anybody worth their salt when they go out onto the field, they always think
there's some possibility that something can happen, that they could steal a
In the match at Belo Horizonte on June 29, 1950, Bahr collected a throw-in from
Ed McIlvenny and took a shot from about 25 yards that Joe Gaetjens deflected
past goalkeeper Bert Williams with a diving header late in the first half.
Frank Borghi had some spectacular saves that made the lead stand up.
"As much as we were very thrilled and pleased to win the game, most of us felt
the same way: 'How's that English club going to go back home and face their
fans?'" Bahr said. "It was a lot easier for us to explain the victory than for
them to go back and explain that defeat."
Born on April 1, 1927, Bahr was a graduate of Temple University and part of the
1948 U.S. Olympic team. He coached Temple from 1970-73 and Penn State from
1974-88, leading the Nittany Lions to the NCAA semifinals in 1979, when he was
United Soccer Coaches College Coach of the Year.
He is survived by his wife 71 years, the former Davies Uhler; daughter Davies
Ann Desiderio, and sons Matt, Chris, and Casey. All three sons played
professional soccer, and Matt and Chris won Super Bowls.
A memorial service is scheduled for June 29 at St. Andrews Episcopal Church in
State College, Pennsylvania.