Philly Sports Hall sets Bahr high
Author: Dan Dunkin
Perhaps the biggest upset in U.S. soccer history occurred in the 1950 World Cup.
It happened because a former BucksCounty resident, Walter Bahr, made the pass leading to the winning goal against England.
It was a highlight of a career that is still considered one of the greatest among American players. Bahr would go on to a successful soccer coaching career at Temple and PennState, and Thursday, he was announced as a member of the Philadelphia Sports Hall of Fame's fourth class of honorees.
Bahr, 80, who now lives in State College and formerly resided in Feasterville, was unable to attend the press conference at CitizensBankPark, but nine members of the Philadelphia Old-Timers Soccer Association were there to honor him. And the association's president, Jim Kidd, remembered Bahr well.
"He was a great athlete," Kidd said. "Philadelphia produced an awful lot of great soccer players, and Walter could have played with any of those guys.
"Now they're talking about the new-styled game, and he would've played with them, too."
The nice thing about this Hall of Fame is that it has diligently dug way back into Philly's storied sports past to honor many deserving athletes, coaches and media members that gave the region its unique and deeply layered sporting texture. Thirteen individuals with Philly roots, plus the 1980 Phillies World Series champions, comprise the Philadelphia Sports Hall of Fame's class of '07; they'll be honored at an induction dinner Dec. 12 at the Hyatt Regency Penn's Landing.
Five are deceased. Seven either live out of state or had prior commitments that prevented them from coming to the news conference. Inductee Frank "Bucko" Kilroy, an Eagles great and a pioneering NFL front-office man, was represented by his brother, Joe, who said Bucko is in poor health in Boston.
Long-time Temple sports information man Al Shrier remembered inductee Harry Litwack, legendary Temple basketball coach, as one around whom other coaches flocked at clinics.
"He taught a lot of athletes how to be super human beings," Shrier said.
Greg Luzinski, the star left fielder of the '80 Phillies, most remembered the taut League Championship Series with Houston and a "unique ball club" of outstanding players and timely performances late in the season.
"You play to be a champion," Luzinski said. "It was quite a team. We had tried three years previous to that. ... We'd like to thank the Hall of Philadelphia for remembering the only world champion in Phillies history."
Bahr moved his growing family to Feasterville; he had two sons who became NFL field goal kickers (Matt and Chris). He grew up in Kensington and at 15 joined the Philadelphia Nationals of the American Soccer League. In 1949, a well-regarded Scottish player said Bahr was "good enough to play for any First Division team in the United Kingdom."
Bahr was captain of the '48 U.S. Olympic soccer team and the '50 World Cup club. Playing left halfback, he was a perennial ASL All-Star and a key player for four Philadelphia Nationals teams that won ASL championships. Making little money as a pro soccer player, he taught and coached at FrankfordHigh School in Philadelphia. He was named to the National Soccer Hall of Fame in '76.
His combined coaching record at Temple and PennState was 448-137 and 20 draws. He was inducted into the National Soccer Coaches Association of America Hall of Fame in '95.