The historical Sam T.N. Foulds

One of the last players cut from the roster for the United States soccer team that played at the 1928 Olympic Games in Amsterdam was a center half from Boston named Sam Foulds. Decades later, he was heard to speak positively of this occurrence. The reason for his seemingly illogical statement, he explained, is that during the time that he would have been at the Olympics in Holland, he met his future wife in Boston.

That was an impressive testament to Mrs. Foulds, for Sam was famously devoted to soccer, and became a legendary figure in American soccer, particularly in New England, where he lived most of his life. He held a string of administrative positions in the sport, but his number-one contribution was as a great chronicler of the history of soccer in America.

At the time of those 1928 Olympic Games, Sam was playing for the Revere Corinthians of Revere, Mass., a team that he and his father had organized in 1923. He played for the Corinthians until 1941, by which time he had gotten very much involved in the administrative end of the sport. At one time or another, he served as president of the Bay State League, the Eastern Massachusetts League, the Inter-City League, the Boston and District League, the Massachusetts State League and the New England League.

Still, it was as an historian that Sam left his greatest mark on American soccer. Sam, who died in 1994 at the age of 89, was historian of the U.S. Soccer Federation from 1972 to 1994 and the historical consultant to the National Soccer Hall of Fame from 1979 to 1994. As a result, the USSF provided him with a copier for his home in Salem, N.H. Anybody who contacted him with questions about American soccer history saw the results of his having that copier, in the form of pages arriving in the mail that Sam had copied from the materials he had been collecting for decades. Sam had the primary sources of information at his fingertips, and didn’t hesitate to share that information with others.

Sam was instrumental in the founding of the organization whose website this is, the Society for American Soccer History. He knew that he was not going to live forever, and that it would take more than one person to replace him. So, he was the driving force behind calling together the meeting, held at the Hall of Fame in Oneonta, N.Y, on June 10, 1993, at which the plans were laid for the formation of SASH.

The materials that Sam collected over the years were donated to the National Soccer Hall of Fame after his death. In the archives in Oneonta, Sam’s collection occupied 37 large archival storage boxes, plus three smaller boxes. I believe it still occupies those same boxes, although the archives are now in storage in North Carolina.

The study of American soccer history has expanded considerably in the nearly 20 years since Sam’s death, and a lot of that can be attributed to the foundation that Sam laid. The people carrying on the work that Sam did have included a lot of the recipients of his photocopies.

A version of this article originally appeared at Roger’s Big Soccer blog on July 21, 2013.

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