Posts tagged ‘Walter Bahr’

Walter Bahr Makes the Cut

Penn Staters know Walter Bahr as one of the best soccer coaches in school history, but he is more widely known as one of the greatest soccer players in U.S. history. In fact, a panel of 20 American soccer writers, journalists, and analysts in British publication The Guardian just named the former midfielder the 24th-best USMNT player of all time. One voter asserted that Bahr—who assisted on the only goal in the famous 1-0 upset of England in the 1950 World Cup—is the greatest player to ever wear the red, white, and blue.

Bahr, a National Soccer Hall of Fame inductee who we profiled in the fall of 2013, has Penn State ties that go beyond coaching. Three of his four children were athletes in Happy Valley: Chris ’75 and Matt Bahr ’79 were stars on both the pitch and the gridiron, while Davies Ann Bahr ’81 was an All-American gymnast.

Bill DiFilippo, online editor

July 24, 2015 at 12:55 pm 1 comment

The View from the Top


A giant of American soccer and patriarch of one of Penn State’s most famous families, Walter Bahr has the best seats in the house.


The living legend is there like always, watching from the top row. It’s a good view. The elevation allows him to see the game develop, and he appreciates the distance from the coaches on the opposite sideline. “Like any spectator, you pay your admission, you’re allowed to help coach the team,” Walter Bahr says with a smile. “No, I purposely stay away. Nothing worse than a retired coach hanging around.”

Bahr 2

He doesn’t hang around in any active sense; he doesn’t impose. He’s simply there. He watches quietly, his expression largely unchanged by goals or near-misses or the players’ vocal protests or their melodramatic dives. He sits in the top row with his wife of nearly seven decades. Every time, the same spot. They rarely miss a game.

On this night, a cool Tuesday evening in mid-September, they are among a few hundred diehards on hand for a men’s game at Jeffrey Field. They watch the men, the team he coached for 14 seasons, and they’ll come to watch the women’s program that didn’t exist until a few years after he retired. Walter wears a thick black parka with the Oakland Raiders shield on the chest, a reminder of the sons who turned their strong legs and soccer training into NFL careers. His wife, Davies, wears a cozy blue and gray sweatshirt with a Nittany Lion logo.

For a big game, or on a weekend when former players come back to town, they might draw a small crowd. But on nights like this, a sparse crowd for a midweek game against a non-conference opponent, there’s no one sitting within 50 feet of them. But if you make your way over, they are happy to share their space, and happy to talk.

Davies is 87, Walter 86. They have plenty to share.

Earlier this year, the U.S. Soccer federation celebrated its centennial, and the party was well-timed. America’s historical reluctance to fully embrace the game is fading: The U.S. men surprised no one last month when they qualified convincingly for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil; Major League Soccer, where nearly every team now plays in its own soccer-specific stadium, continues its steady growth; and European league matches pull ever higher TV ratings on this side of the Atlantic. There is no more novelty. There is only a nation catching up to the rest of the world.

The first century of American soccer can be distilled to a handful of iconic moments, and none is more iconic than the one virtually no American saw—or cared about—at the time. Sixty-three years ago, in the scoreless first half of a game played in a Brazilian mining town, Walter Bahr kicked a ball toward the English goal. (more…)

October 8, 2013 at 12:16 pm 10 comments

We’re Not the Only Penn Staters Celebrating Our 100th Birthday This Fall

We just got copies of The Penn Stater‘s centennial issue back from our printer — check the blog next week for more on that — but we got a reminder today that we’re not celebrating alone. The men’s soccer team this year is marking its 100th season of competition, and on Saturday afternoon, the Lions will try to mark it with a win over a ranked conference rival.

The high-scoring Nittany Lions (led by junior forward Corey Hertzog, the nation’s top scorer) welcome No. 25 Ohio State to Jeffrey Field Saturday at 3 pm. It’s Senior Day for Penn State, when the Lions will not only send off five graduating players, but also plan to welcome back luminaries from the program’s past, including legendary coach Walter Bahr, two-time All-American Dick Packer ’56 (pictured at right) and 1979 Hermann Trophy winner Jim Stamatis ’80.

Looks like a bunch of former Lions might be back in town, and after a damp, chilly week, the weather is supposed to be gorgeous. My dream Saturday itinerary? Leave the house tomorrow with the football team up two or three touchdowns at Minnesota, stop by the Creamery, and get to Jeffrey Field in time for kickoff. Fingers crossed.

Ryan Jones, senior editor

October 22, 2010 at 5:11 pm Leave a comment

Walter Bahr and Soccer’s ‘No-Hopers’ Featured in the N.Y. Times

It’s been a good week for Penn Staters in the New York Times. Two days after a profile of women’s volleyball coach Russ Rose dominated the Times’ front Sports page, today’s section includes a terrific feature on the 1950 U.S. World Cup soccer team responsible for the biggest upset in the game’s history. One of the key players on that squad was Walter Bahr, who went on to coach the Penn State men’s soccer team for years (and whose sons, Chris ’75 and Matt ’79, played soccer for Bahr and football for Joe Paterno and went on to kick in the NFL). Down in Brazil nearly 60 years ago, Walter assisted on the only goal in the Americans’ monumental upset of the heavily favored English.

So why is Walter, now retired and living in Boalsburg, back in the news? Because last week, the current U.S. national team was drawn with England in the opening game of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. The Americans figure to be slight underdogs against the Brits next summer, but a U.S. victory wouldn’t be shocking. Either way, expect Bahr’s name to come up in the media more and more as June 12 approaches. As he told the Times, “The older I get, the more famous I become.”

Ryan Jones, senior editor

December 10, 2009 at 11:30 am 7 comments

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