Walter Bahr

A midfielder who led Philadelphia teams to six American Soccer League titles in eight years and starred in the U.S. national team for a decade. Until the soccer boom of recent decades, Bahr was considered possibly the best soccer player the United States had ever produced.

Bahr, a native of Phladelphia and a product of the traditional Philadelphia soccer hotbeds of Kensington and the Lighthouse Boys House (where he was coached by 1930 World Cup star Bart McGhee), was a left midfielder and occasional inside forward. By far his greatest fame came as a result of his part in the scoring of a famous goal, the one by Joe Gaetjens that beat England in the 1950 World Cup in Brazil. On that play, in the 37th minute of the game in Belo Horizonte, Bahr sent a looping, 25-yard shot toward the far post that goalkeeper Bert Williams seemed to have covered until Gaetjens dove forward to redirect it past him.

Bahr was not captain of the U.S. team that day (the honor had been given to the Scottish-born McIlvenny) but he was for most of the 19 full internationals games he played for the United States between 1948 and 1957. In addition to the 1950 World Cup, Bahr played for he United States in the 1948 Olympic Games, in World Cup qualifying series in 1949, 1954 and 1957, and in the 1952 game against Scotland before a landmark crowd in Glasgow.

Bahr, who began playing in the ASL as an amateur when he was 16, and his Temple University and national team teammate Bennie McLaughlin were the stars of the Philadelphia Nationals team that won American Soccer League championships in 1949, 1950, 1951 and 1953. The 1949 team also won the ASL’s Lewis Cup, and nearly achieved a triple by winning the U.S. Open Cup as well, losing in the final to Morgan Strasser from Pittsburgh. Philadelphia Nationals folded after the 1952-53 season, but Bahr won two additional ASL titles, with Uhrik Truckers of Philadelphia, in 1955 and 1956.

Bahr finished his playing career in the late 1950s in the German-American League of New York, with Eintracht and German-Hungarians. After retiring as a player, Bahr coached for more than 30 years at Frankford High School in Philadelphia, Temple and Penn State. His overall coaching record was 448 wins, 137 defeats and 70 ties.

Inducted in 1976.

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