Edgar Lewis

A steel company executive who organized the first great powerhouse team in American soccer, the Bethlehem Steel team of the 1910s and 1920s.

Lewis, who was born in Wales and came to America as a child, had been an excellent player for the Bethlehem team in its amateur days. After retiring from playing in 1914 he set out about creating a company-sponsored professional team, with the blessing of company president Charles M. Schwab. At first, Lewis coached the team, but after two years of that, he turning to overseeing it from the executive suite. Lewis was unusual in several ways: He was an immigrant who hadn’t begun playing soccer until after his move to America, he had been a corporate executive in the usually blue-collar lineup of the company soccer team, and he made Bethlehem Steel the only company-sponsored soccer team to have a high-ranking member of management looking after its interests.

Lewis, who became executive vice president of Bethlehem Steel in 1916, imported some excellent players from England, Scotland and Ireland for the Steelworkers, offering them employment in the corporation as well as on the soccer team.  The result was that Bethlehem Steel won the U.S. Open Cup in 1915, 1916, 1918, 1919 and 1926, the American Football Association Cup in 1914, 1916, 1917, 1918, 1919 and 1924, and the American Soccer League title in 1922 and 1927.

Lewis became disenchanted with the soccer business as a result of the “Soccer War” of 1928-29. He left Bethlehem Steel in February 1930, perhaps as a result of corporate disputes that had nothing to do with soccer, and the soccer team was disbanded a few months later. Lewis returned to the steel business in 1936 as president of Jones & Laughlin in Pittsburgh, and headed that company until his death in 1948.

Inducted in 1950.