Former United States Men’s National Team defender and captain Walter Bahr passed away today in Boalsburg, Pennsylvania. He was 91 years old. According to his granddaughter, Lindsey D. Bahr, he died as the result of complications from a broken hip.
Bahr made 19 international appearances, scoring one goal and featuring in all three of the U.S.’s 1950 World Cup matches. He also played in the 1948 London Olympics.
Bahr is best remembered for his role in the USMNT’s 1-0 victory over England in the 1950 World Cup. He provided the assist for the team’s lone goal, which was scored by forward Joe Gaetjens.
This victory is arguably the greatest in USMNT history and considered by many to be the greatest upset in world soccer history, as an American side composed primarily of players who were not full-time professionals defeated an England team that was thought to be one of the best in the world. Author Geoffrey Douglas later turned the story of the game into a book entitled The Game of Their Lives.
At the club level, Bahr played in the American Soccer League (ASL) for the Philadelphia Nationals, Uhrik Truckers, and Philadelphia United German-Hungarians. During his professional career, he also worked as a high school teacher in the Philadelphia area.
After the end of his playing career, Bahr managed the Philadelphia Spartans of the short-lived National Professional Soccer League, Philadelphia Ukrainians of the ASL and Temple University as well as Penn State’s Men’s soccer teams.
In 1976, Bahr and the rest of the 1950 World Cup team were inducted into the National Soccer Hall of Fame. Bahr was considered one of the top American players during his time, with former Scottish International Tommy Muirhead once stating that “Bahr is good enough to play for any First Division team in the United Kingdom.”
Bahr is survived by his wife, daughter, and sons Matt, Chris, and Casey, who all played in the original North American Soccer League (NASL). Chris and Casey also featured for the U.S. Olympic team. Chris and Matt later played as kickers in the NFL.