Bahr passes away at 91

Sports

Penn State Intercollegiate Athletics mourns the passing of Walter Bahr, former head coach of the men’s soccer team. Bahr, the last surviving member of the historic United States 1950 World Cup team, died Monday in Boalsburg, Pa. at the age of 91.
 
Bahr was head coach of the men’s soccer program from 1974-87, guiding the Nittany Lions to 12 NCAA Tournament appearances in his 14 seasons at the helm. The 1979 squad advanced to the NCAA semifinals.
 
He led his squads to a combined 185-66-22record, which at the time made him the winningest coach in the program’s history. Bahr remains the Nittany Lions’ second winningest coach. 
 
Bahr’s career-long contributions to soccer at Penn State and on the national level were recognized when he was named the 1986 recipient of the National Soccer Coaches Honor Award. He was inducted into the National Soccer Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 1995.
 
“It’s a very sad day for the Penn State men’s soccer family,” said Nittany Lion men’s soccer head coach Jeff Cook. “Our deepest sympathies go out to the Bahr family and to the thousands of people who have been impacted by Walter during his incredible career. He was a true United States soccer legend. Coach Bahr will be deeply missed by many but his legacy will live on as an inspiration for our soccer program at Penn State.”
 
During the 1979 season, Bahr was named national and regional Coach of the Year after the Nittany Lions posted an 18-4-1 record en route to a third-place finish in the NCAA Championship in Tampa, Fla. That same year, Bahr coached forward Jim Stamatis to collegiate soccer’s highest honor when Stamatis was named the winner of the 1979 Hermann Trophy as the nation’s outstanding player.
 
“We’ve lost one of the great people in our country,” said Stamatis, who played for the Nittany Lions from 1976-79. “Coach Bahr embodied everything it takes to be a great American, coach and mentor. He represented his country and was an ambassador for the game of soccer. I am forever grateful to have been mentored by him. I will never forget everything he taught me and everyone in the program. He leaves an unbelievable legacy.”
 
His 1987 Penn State squad won the Atlantic 10 Conference Championship.
 
Bahr enjoyed tremendous success as a coach and a player. He started playing the soccer at age 10 with the Lighthouse Boys Club in the Kensington section of Philadelphia. Four years later he signed an amateur contract with the professional Philadelphia Nationals.
 
Bahr played on every national team to compete outside the United States from 1947-58, including the 1948 Olympic team and the 1950 World Cup squad, most famous for pulling off what’s considered as the greatest upset in World Cup history. Bahr assisted on the goal that beat England, 1-0, at Belo Horizonte, Brazil. He and his 1950 World Cup teammates were inducted into the United States Soccer Federation Hall of Fame in July 1976. 
 
“It’s a sad day to hear that our coach has passed away,” said John Marsden, who played for the Nittany Lions from 1972-75. “Coach Bahr was a great man who influenced so many people, on and off the field. He taught all of us many great life lessons. And how ironic is it that England should happen to be playing today in the World Cup?”
 
Bahr was an All-America soccer player at Temple in 1944, earning his degree in 1949. He compiled a 20-12-10 record in three seasons (1971-73) coaching at his alma mater before joining the Nittany Lions.
 
Two of Bahr’s sons also played soccer for the Nittany Lions. Chris (1971-74) was a three-time All-American on the pitch as well as an All-American on the football field and Matt (1974-77) earned All-American notice as a kicker on the gridiron while also playing soccer. Both went on to win Super Bowl titles as placekickers.
 
“Walter Bahr was a great ambassador for the sport of soccer,” said former Senior Woman Administrator Sue Scheetz, who was head coach of the Penn State women’s lacrosse team during Bahr’s tenure. “An outstanding player and coach, Walter enthusiastically promoted the sport and received many deserved honors and awards for his accomplishments and contributions. You always could count on Walter for a good story or joke followed by his big smile. My thoughts are with his family at this difficult time.”
 
In 1989, the Walter Bahr Soccer Scholarship was established to provide financial assistance to an undergraduate student-athlete who has a “proficiency” in soccer and displays outstanding academic records. 
 
During his time at Penn State, Bahr coached five All-Americans, two Soccer America Freshman All-America honorees, a Hermann Trophy recipient, two Olympians and 16 All-Mid-Atlantic Region honorees.
 
“Walter Bahr was one of the greatest people to ever be part of soccer in the United States,” former U.S. Soccer Federation President Sunil Gulati told the Associated Press. “Not only was he a pioneer and a fantastic ambassador for our game over many years, he was a true gentleman.”
 
Bahr is survived by his wife of 71 years, Davies, four children, eight grandchildren and one great grandchild.
 
The arrangements are under the direction of Koch Funeral Home, State College, and are pending.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Don't Miss