BRAIN TRAUMA DRAMA
February 6, 2013, 11:05 pm
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| Tags: Major League Soccer
, New England Revolution
, San Diego Jaws
, San Diego Sockers
, National Football League
, Taylor Twellman
, Soccer Stories: Anecdotes
, Lore and Amazing Feats
, President Obama
, New Republic
, head trauma
, Malia Obama
, Sasha Obama
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, Theodore Roosevelt
, National Collegiate Athletic Association
, Sports Illustrated
, John Underwood
, The Death of An American Game
, American Youth Soccer Organization
, Alan Mayer
, Baltimore Comets
, Las Vegas Quicksilver
, California Surf
President Obama jumped into the growing debate over concussions in gridiron football, saying in an interview with the New Republic that if he had a son he would think twice before allowing him to play the sport. The remarks were released days after his second inauguration and days before the Super Bowl.
Thousands of former National Football League players have sued the league, alleging it took steps to conceal links between contact and brain trauma.
“I’m a big football fan, but I have to tell you if I had a son, I’d have to think long and hard before I let him play football,” the President said. He added that gridiron football fans “have to wrestle with the fact that it will probably change gradually to try to reduce some of the violence. In some cases, that may make it a little bit less exciting, but it will be a whole lot better for the players, and those of us who are fans maybe won’t have to examine our consciences quite as much.”
Obama expressed greater concern for college players than those in the NFL.
“NFL players have a union; they’re grown men, they can make some of these decisions on their own, and most of them are well-compensated for the violence they do to their bodies,” he said. ”You read some of these stories about college players who undergo some of these same problems with concussions and so forth and then have nothing to fall back on. That’s something that I’d like to see the NCAA think about.” [January 27]
Comment: Perhaps the President would have encouraged his fictional son to play soccer. (Real-life daughters Malia and Sasha do.) It wouldn’t mark the first time that soccer has been presented in America as the reasonable alternative to gridiron football.
The first proved to be soccer’s near-undoing.
It was late in the turn of the century–the 19th century–and the gridiron game, the sport of the Muscular Christian, was in the ascendant on the college campuses of America. The new football, however, had a problem with its image: by 1905, another 18 young men were killed playing this sport. According to “Soccer Stories: Anecdotes, Oddities, Lore and Amazing Feats”: … An appalled President Theodore Roosevelt threatened to ban the gridiron game, thus prompting its backers to scramble and create what would become the National Collegiate Athletic Association. In this atmosphere soccer was being viewed in a better light, and it began to be promoted in some quarters as the safer alternative for America’s young men. But that campaign only helped paint the kicking game as a benign exercise for physical education classes rather than a sport to be taken seriously. Already damned as an ethnic pastime, soccer became regarded in the United States as a game for those not tough enough for the manful, masculine, and manly game of gridiron football.
The second time, in the 1970s, with football eclipsing baseball as America’s national pastime, the American youth soccer boom was well underway–and confounding soccer’s critics across the country, including Sports Illustrated senior editor John Underwood. Here, in his 1979 book, “The Death of An American Game,” Underwood ponders the future of sports in the U.S. with a friend identified only as “B”. To B., gridiron football’s violence will prove to be its undoing, and soccer is poised to take full advantage:
“Don’t be gulled by those of us who believe football will survive no matter what. Football people have a colossal mental block on that point. Some of us don’t even understand soccer, and what we see of it we can’t imagine anybody preferring it to American football. But … there’s a whole generation of kids out there who see things we don’t see. Eight-, ten-, and 12-year-olds, flocking to the soccer fields. Kids who found organized football at that level a drag, and soccer fast and fun and skillful–and physical, too, without being brutal.
“I’ve got one myself who’s into it now, and I go and watch and I’m bewildered. But he’s not. He’s having fun. He loves it. And he can play it without having to listen to some knee-jerk facsimile of a Lombardi tell him to bury his tiny little helmeted head in somebody’s groin so we can all get a trophy and be number one.
“Suburban kids are fleeing organized football. Check it out, you’ll see. If we don’t curb the injuries, do something about the trend, it may be irreversible. Football may well become a game for the lower classes. A ghetto game for young gladiators desperate to get a leg up and willing to sacrifice their bodies to do it. It would be a terrible tragedy, but it would be our own doing. Our legacy.
B. paused. In the diffused shore light, I could see only his outline. I imagined that his face was a somber as his voice, which was grim as mourning weeds.
“The injuries, the brutality, the dubious pro influence, the swarming lawyers–and soccer, too. Do you know the statistics on the growth of soccer in this country?” he said with sudden intensity. ”Ten years ago, this guy, the founder of the American Youth Soccer [Organization], walks into a sporting goods store in Inglewood, California, to buy a soccer ball The owner tries to sell him a volleyball. He didn’t know the difference. Do you know that last year that same store sold a million dollars’ worth of soccer equipment? It’s time we got to know our enemies.”
“You forgot one,” I said.
“The toughest one of them all. Your most implacable foe.”
“Mom. Every kid football player’s mother. She has always fought the game, always distrusted it. She never understood football in the first place. She doesn’t know a first down from a first inning. But it always scared hell out of her, the prospect of baby boy getting his head cracked. Now when she reads the casualty lists, and remembers the sad examples on television and at the little-league park, she is liable to become relentless. Soccer gave her an alternative, clean and practically injury free. It’s her kind of alternative.”
“The hand that rocks the cradle,” B. said.
“Something like that. Don’t underestimate the power of maternal enmity.”
B. promised he wouldn’t.
Will soccer now take further advantage of the violence of football, on the backs of players who have, at worst, been driven in retirement to suicide because of repeated blows to the head on the gridiron?
Public perception of soccer in this country places it among basketball and volleyball on the team-sport danger scale. Among its detractors, soccer–to its everlasting shame, they claim–takes about as much guts to play as golf or tennis. To the contrary, of course, with its torn knees, head injuries and broken bones, it probably ranks behind only gridiron football and ice hockey as a contact sport.
Soccer has its own head injury issues to deal with. Before Underwood’s book, there was English international striker Jeff Astle. A playing career spent heading heavy, water-logged leather balls in the 1960s led to his death in 2002 at age 59. The West Bromwich Albion striker scored 137 goals in 292 games–many of them with his head. The coroner determined the cause of Astle’s death as a buildup of protein in blood vessels in the brain, a condition exacerbated in his younger days by heading. The damage was at the front of the brain, similar to that of a boxer. With the ruling, the death was officially attributed to “industrial disease.”
While Underwood was completing his book, there was Alan Mayer, a U.S. international goalkeeper who sustained seven concussions while playing for the NASL’s Baltimore Comets, San Diego Jaws, Las Vegas Quicksilver, San Diego Sockers and California Surf. He ended his career wearing a hockey-style helmet rarely seen in soccer.
Now there’s Taylor Twellman, another U.S. international who’s probably as well known presently as a commentator for ESPN as for winning two Major League Soccer scoring titles while with the New England Revolution. Twellman, whose father Tim played against Mayer in the NASL, scored 101 goals in 174 matches, but his career was cut short at age 30 in 2010 because of a series of concussions, and he has now made the study and prevention of brain injuries in sports his personal cause.
It’s hard to imagine soccer outlawing headers. It’s hard to imagine all 22 players wearing a version of Alan Mayer’s crash helmet. But soccer–especially here in America–needs to get ahead of this issue. Globally, there are thousands and thousands of future head injuries to be prevented. If that can be done, here and abroad, soccer in this country will continue to be seen, to an even greater degree, as the safe and sane version of this contact sport known as football.
ONE OF LAST LINKS TO USA’S FINEST, UNLIKELY, HOUR AND A HALF
February 12, 2012, 11:37 pm
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| Tags: Brazil
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, Ton Ton Macoute
, Soviet Union
One of the most notable figures in the early history of American soccer, Harry Keough, died at his home in St. Louis. He was 84.
Keough was the broad-shouldered center back of the U.S. team that upset England, 1-0, in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, in the first round of the 1950 World Cup, a result considered by many perhaps the biggest upset ever in sports. England, inventors of the game with a side made up of First Division professionals, came to Brazil as tournament favorite while the Americans were a collection of semipros.
Keough, a postal carrier by trade, earned 17 caps in the late 1940s and ’50s. He also led St. Louis Kutis to the 1957 U.S. National Open Cup and six consecutive U.S. National Amateur Cups beginning in 1956. Keough went on to a long and successful career as a collegiate coach. After helping Missouri’s Florissant Valley become a junior college powerhouse, he took the helm at Saint Louis University and guided the Billikens to NCAA Division I championships in 1968 (shared with Michigan State), 1969, ’70, ’72 and ’73, compiling a 213-50-23 record from 1967 through ’82.
In 1976, Keough was inducted along with the rest of his 1950 U.S. teammates into the National Soccer Hall of Fame, and in 1990 he became, along with ex-teammate Walter Bahr, the go-to guy for media members looking for a quote regarding the significance of America’s first World Cup appearance in four decades. With Keough’s passing, only three members of that U.S. team remain: Bahr, John Souza and Frank Borghi. [February 6]
Comment: A fluke, a mistake, a month of Sundays in collision, but without the improbable heroics of Keough & Co. nearly 62 years ago, this country’s soccer’s history, at a glance, would’ve been a blank slate for 45 long years–from the USA’s two-win march to the semifinals at the first World Cup in 1930 to the arrival of Pele in 1975. And when it came to America’s feeble hurrah in the middle of an otherwise barren resume, it couldn’t have had a more gracious and humble spokesman than Keough.
For those who aren’t inclined to read Geoffrey Douglas’ 1996 book ”The Game of Their Lives” (or sit through the disappointing 2005 motion picture of the same name that managed to paint English star forward Stan Mortensen as an arrogant villain, among other distortions and inaccuracies), here’s a condensed account of U.S. 1, England 0, from Soccer Stories: Anecdotes, Oddities, Lore and Amazing Feats:
THE GREATEST UPSET OF THEM ALL
In terms of sheer shock value, it’s bigger than the U.S. ice hockey team’s gold medal triumph at the 1980 Winter Olympics. It tops the 1969 Miracle Mets, Jets quarterback Joe Namath’s guaranteed win in Super Bowl III–all of them.
The U.S. National Team’s 1-0 victory over England at the 1950 World Cup in Brazil was the greatest upset in the history of sports. England, the birthplace of soccer, lost to the United States, a team of semipros–plus one amateur–representing a country that was considered at the time to be on a par with Antarctica on the international soccer totem pole. Imagine the 1992 U.S. Olympic basketball squad, the so-called Dream Team, tumbling to the Duchy of Grand Fenwick. So preposterous was the thought of England losing to the United States that many sports editors around the world, upon seeing the final score come over the wire from Belo Horizonte, concluded that it must have been a typographical error. Surely the actual score was England 10, United States 1.
England, at odds with FIFA from the late 1920s until just after World War II, had finally consented to play in a World Cup after skipping the first three, and it came to Brazil as a favorite. In the first round a routine victory over Chile and the expected hammering of the United States, plus a win–at worst a tie–against Spain, and the English would be through Group 2 and into the final pool for a four-team, round-robin playoff for the crown. From there England would cement its status as the game’s master.
The English indeed brushed aside Chile, 2-0, June 25 at the cavernous Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro in their first-ever World Cup match. The Americans, meanwhile, had opened the cup by falling bravely to Spain in Curitiba, 3-1, giving up all three goals after the 80th minute. Thus, the stage was set for the USA’s expected elimination at the hands of England at Belo Horizonte, a mining town some 300 miles north of Rio.
A crowd of 10,151 gathered at the intimate Mineiro Stadium on that cool, cloudy June 29, most of them curious Brazilians rooting for the United States to somehow upend England and perhaps help remove an obstacle to their own country’s championship hopes. The field was bumpy–an impediment to English skill–and the dressing rooms were so cramped and foul that England chose to change beforehand at its hotel. From the opening kickoff, England set up camp on the U.S. half of the field and, early on, sailed a shot just over the crossbar. The English were laughing and joking as they sauntered back for the ensuing goal kick. Surely the slaughter would begin soon.
But, amazingly, the game remained 0-0 beyond the first half hour, and in the 39th minute (or 37th or 38th, depending on the account), the United States scored the Goal. U.S. halfback Walter Bahr, one of eight native-born Americans in the lineup, latched onto a throw-in from the right by captain Ed McIlvenny, dribbled 10 yards down the wing, and rifled a 25-yard shot toward the far post. English goalkeeper Bert Williams appeared to have the situation under control, but U.S. center forward Joe Gaetjens swooped in and sent a flying header into the right corner of the net.
Several English newspaper reports claimed the ball struck the unwitting Gaetjens in the head before caroming into the goal. “Williams in the England goal positioned himself perfectly to gather in Bahr’s shot,” wrote John Graydon of the English Saturday Post, “but Gaetjens, the American leader, ruined everything for him. Gaetjens jumped in, failed to connect with his forehead but the ball accidentally hit the top of his head and was deflected into the England goal.” Surviving U.S. players later contended that Gaetjens was simply an unpredictable player who chose this moment to execute an unexpected diving header.
This was England’s wake-up call, and the red-faced favorites–frustrated by an underdog listed at 500-1–responded with a second-half barrage that increased in intensity as the final whistle approached. But goalkeeper Frank Borghi and his back line held firm, the English marksmen were off-target, and there would be no equalizer.
At one point English defender Alf Ramsey’s free kick was headed on by forward Jimmy Mullen and seemingly bound for the U.S. goal, but Borghi made a sprawling save.
England’s best chance to draw level came with five minutes remaining. Inside forward Stanley Mortensen split the U.S. defense, only to be brought down just beyond the penalty area with a desperate gridiron football-style tackle by U.S. center back Charles Colombo, the team’s hard man who, perhaps for reasons of intimidation, always wore boxer’s training gloves when he played. So vicious was the hit that their momentum carried Mortenson and Colombo to the penalty spot. Italian referee Generoso Dattilo, however, did not point to the spot to give England a penalty kick and he did not eject Colombo. True to his given name, he shook his finger at Colombo yet said, “Bono, bono, bono!” (in this instance, “Good job!” or “Way to go!”) and awarded only a free kick that England subsequently sent sailing over the bar.
Moments later, Ramsey booted a free kick into the penalty area, where Mullen’s downward header got behind Borghi, but the U.S. ‘keeper recovered and palmed the ball away for right back Harry Keough to clear. Dattilo rejected English claims that the ball had crossed the goal line.
Through it all, the Americans kept their cool. Late in the match, with the partisan crowd chanting Mais um! (“One more!”), the balding inside forward John “Clarkie” Souza dribbled around a half-dozen Englishmen to kill several seconds off the clock.
At the final whistle, Gaetjens, Borghi, and other U.S. players were paraded around the field on the shoulders of jubilant Brazilian fans, and others set newspapers ablaze in the stands in celebration. U.S. coach Bill Jeffrey, a Scotsman, danced a jig on the sidelines.
While the rest of the world buzzed, this monumental upset caused less than a ripple in the United States. Only one American reporter, Dent McSkimming, was on hand for the game, and that was only because he was on vacation and taking in the game as a tourist; his paper, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, ran not a McSkimming report of the game but a wire service account. The disinterest shown the remarkable feat by the American public spoke volumes of the state of soccer in the United States in the 1950s; likewise, the shock and amazement in most quarters that greeted news of the upset said plenty about what the world thought of both English and American soccer.
* * *
Before the upset the U.S. Soccer Federation, then known as the U.S. Football Association (USFA), all but shut down its national team program following a humiliating 7-1 loss to host Italy in its only 1934 World Cup match and a respectable 1-0 loss to the eventual gold medal-winning Italians in its lone appearance at the 1936 Berlin Olympics. The United States entered the 1938 World Cup in France but withdrew after FIFA pitted the Americans against the Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia) in a qualifying playoff. (Perhaps the USFA was influenced by a September 1937 trip to Mexico City during which the national team bowed to El Tricolores, 7-2, 7-3, and 5-1 over two weeks.
Thanks in part to World War II, the USFA (since renamed the U.S. Soccer Football Association) didn’t send a selection out onto the field until the 1947 North American Championship in Havana, where Cuba and Mexico flattened the Americans by a combined 10-2. That was followed by the 1948 London Olympics, where the Americans–featuring future World Cup team members Bahr, Colombo, Gino Parini, Eddie Souza, and John Souza (no relation)–were humbled by Italy, 9-0, in their only match. Four days later, the squad, now appearing as the national team, was humiliated by Norway, 11-0, in Oslo, and five days after that it tumbled to Northern Ireland, 5-0, in Belfast.
Obviously, the world had changed. The United States had beaten Belgium and Paraguay to reach the 1930 World Cup semifinals with a collection of rugged characters, a smattering with pro experience from Britain but most from the hardscrabble ethnic semipro leagues of the urban United States. But over the next two decades professionalism spread to Brazil, Spain, and other soccer hotbeds, while elsewhere, from the amateurs of Scandinavia to the minnows of Central America, the game only got stronger–stronger than the likes of the Fall River FC of Massachusetts, Kearny Scots of New Jersey, Stix, Baer and Fuller of St. Louis, and other domestic powers of the era. Before long, the butchers, bakers and candlestick makers playing in the American Soccer League and/or U.S. National Open Cup were hopelessly behind, a gap that would persist for a half century.
U.S. failure was supposed to have continued in September 1949 with World Cup qualifiers in Mexico City, but North America was generously awarded two slots in Brazil, and the United States team, despite being beaten by Mexico, 6-0 and 6-2, punched their ticket at the expense of the Cubans, 1-1 and 5-2. Nevertheless, it was hardly a bold run-up to Brasil ’50.
The venerable Home International Championship, the world’s oldest international team competition (born 1883, died 1989 due to fan violence), was the annual battle for soccer supremacy among England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. In 1949-50, it doubled as a European qualifying group for the fourth World Cup, and the English finished first by two points with a 1-0 victory over Scotland in Glasgow in their final match. A World Cup spot was reserved for the Home’s second-placed team, but the Scots deemed themselves unworthy as a runner-up and stayed home.
U.S. coach Jeffrey made his final World Cup squad selections after an April 1950 match in St. Louis between hopefuls from the East and West, which ended in a 3-3 tie. Only seven players survived from the qualifiers in Mexico City: Bahr, Borghi, Colombo, forward Nicholas DiOrio, defender Keough, John Souza, and forward Francis Wallace. Jeffrey’s final selection then was thumped, 5-0, by the touring Turkish club Besiktas in St. Louis; a loss to an English B team, 1-0, at New York’s Randall’s Island, followed, and the United States was off to Brazil.
That English B team, playing as the English F.A. XI, would become part of England’s World Cup squad. It tuned up for what would be, for some players, a trip to Brazil by winning all nine of its friendlies during a tour of Canada, outscoring the opposition 66-13, including the victory over the United States.
After the U.S.-England friendly, at a banquet at the Waldorf-Astoria, English Football Association president Stanley Rous, later elected head of FIFA, was gracious in his remarks regarding the U.S. team, but suggested his side was weary from the extensive travel in North America. In conclusion, he said, “When you go to Brazil and play the English National Team, then you will find out what football is all about.”
* * *
After the incredible upset over England, the United States was unable to ride the victory into the tournament’s final pool. The Americans lost to Chile, 5-2, three days later at Ilha do Retiro Stadium in Recife and were eliminated. Like the Spain match, the defense collapsed in the second half. After rebounding from a 2-0 deficit to tie on goals by Gino Pariani in the 47th minute and Ed Souza from the penalty spot in the 48th (or by Frank Wallace and Joe Maca, or by Wallace and John Souza, depending on the account), the team melted in the 110-degree heat and conceded three goals beginning in the 54th.
Nevertheless, the United States, whose squad included a postman, a school teacher, a factory worker, a knitting machine mechanic, and a hearse driver, went home tied for second in Group 2 with England and Chile, all at 1-2-0. Spain (3-0-0) took first but eventually finished last in the final pool, behind champion Uruguay, host Brazil, and third-place Sweden.
Despite disbelief over the England defeat, the United States left Brazil with a respectable all-time World Cup record of 3-4-0. Without a strong national league or public interest, however, the Americans’ immediate future in international soccer was bleak, and they wouldn’t make another World Cup appearance until Italia ’90, where an inexperienced squad of current and former college standouts, average age 23, lost all three of its games. Following USA ’94 (1-2-1), France ’98 (0-3-0), the Americans’ encouraging quarterfinal showing at Japan/Korea ’02 (2-2-1) and Germany ’06 (0-2-1), the United States’ all-time record in World Cup competition stood at 6-16-3.
Coach Walter Winterbottom, who had kept Stanley Matthews out of England’s first two games, played the legendary winger in his team’s final Group 2 match, but the English lost, 1-0, to Spain before 70,000 at the Maracana and trudged home. The English tumbled completely off their pedestal in 1953 when the “Magic Magyars,” the invincible Hungarian National Team, routed them, 6-3, at Wembley Stadium and 7-1 six months later in Budapest.
England, of course, did not curl up and die after the losses to the United States and Hungary. Alf Ramsey, the man who played against the Yanks, was appointed coach, replaced Winterbottom, after England lost in the 1962 World Cup quarterfinals to eventual champion Brazil. The Ramsey-led English won the 1966 World Cup.
As for Belo Horizonte, England avenged that defeat four times over by humiliating the United States, 6-3, in 1953 in New York; 8-1 in 1959 in Los Angeles; 10-0 in 1964 in New York; and 5-0 in 1985 in Los Angeles. The United States came back to surprise the English, 2-0, in U.S. Cup ’93 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. For now, England’s advantage stands at 7-2-1, that tie coming at the 2010 World Cup.
As for Jeffrey, his tenure as U.S. coach consisted of those three games in Brazil and he returned to his day job as soccer coach at Penn State. In 1951, with the national team temporarily in mothballs, Jeffrey led his Nittany Lions on a three-game tour of Iran. The following year he closed out a successful 24-year career as Penn State coach, compiling a 134-21-27 record.
McIlvenny, who like Jeffrey was born in Scotland, played for Wrexham of Wales. He moved to the United States in 1949 and played for the Philadelphia Americans, then in the midst of winning five American Soccer League titles over 10 years. After the World Cup he returned to Britain and played two games with Manchester United, then ended his career with teams in Ireland, Germany, and once again, England. Fellow defender Maca returned to his native Belgium, where he resumed his playing career as the hero who helped vanquish mighty England.
Left back Bahr followed Jeffrey to Penn State and guided the Nittany Lions to a 185-66-22 mark from 1974 to 1987. Two of Bahr’s sons cut short promising professional soccer careers to pursue fame and fortune as place-kickers in the NFL. Chris, a midfielder, switched sports after scoring 11 goals and winning the 1975 NASL Rookie of the Year award with the Philadelphia Atoms. Matt, a defender, split the 1978 NASL season between the Caribous of Colorado and Tulsa Roughnecks before making the jump.
Defender Keough, later a successful coach at Saint Louis University (five NCAA titles in 16 seasons), is the father of TV soccer commentator Ty Keough, whose playing career spanned eight appearances for the United States–nine fewer than his father–and four seasons in the NASL.
Keough, Borghi, Colombo, Wallace, and Pariani were all products of St. Louis, the latter four from the southside Italian neighborhood known as “Dago Hill.” A reserve, Bob Annis, and Jeffrey’s assistant, William “Chubby” Lyons, also were from St. Louis. As a teen, Borghi, the hearse driver who would one day become his funeral home’s director, was a U.S. Army field medic in World War II. He crossed the English Channel the day after D-Day, and among the men he treated in Germany was the future voice of the St. Louis Cardinals, Jack Buck. Another army veteran, Wallace, nicknamed “Pee Wee,” served in the 191st Tank Battalion and saw action on the beach at Anzio, eventually earning four Battle Stars and a Purple Heart; he was captured by the Germans and spend 15 months in a POW camp.
Five Americans on the field at Mineiro Stadium that day were added by Jeffrey after the qualifiers in Mexico City. Of them, McIlvenney, Maca, and Gaetjens were not U.S. citizens but were allowed to play under the more lenient rules of the time. To the USSF, a player who declared his intent to become a U.S. citizen was eligible to play for the national team. Questions were raised after the upset, but later that year FIFA declared that the United States had done nothing wrong. Of the three, however, only Maca would go on to obtain U.S. citizenship.
Before scoring the Goal, Gaetjens, the son of a Haitian mother and Belgian father, was a dishwasher in a New York restaurant, working his way through Columbia University with the help of a Haitian government scholarship. Previously his greatest claim to fame as a player had come in 1949-50 when he led the American Soccer League in scoring with 18 goals for the last-place Brook-Hattan Galicia. After Brazil he played three years in France for Racing Club de Paris and Troyes, then returned to his native Haiti, where the rules of the day allowed him to play for the Haitians in 1953 in a World Cup qualifier against Mexico (a 4-0 loss).
Gaetjens later became a spokesman for Proctor & Gamble and owner of a string of dry-cleaning stores. Gaetjens was apolitical, but apparently some of his relatives were not, and in July 1964 he was hauled out of one of his Port-au-Prince dry-cleaning shops and taken away by “Papa Doc” Duvalier’s dreaded Ton Ton Macoute secret police. Efforts to determine his whereabouts have been unsuccessful, but it is believed he died in prison in 1970, six years before he and his 16 U.S. teammates were inducted into the National Soccer Hall of Fame.
Ironically, the Haitian government issued a commemorative stamp in Gaetjen’s honor in 2000.
* * *
So, just how big was this biggest of all sports upsets?
It changed nothing in the United States, and it did nothing to change English soccer’s opinion of itself, nor did the rest of the world think less of England’s game. An anomaly, at best.
Keough, one of the St. Louis boys, probably put it best. Years later, he told his hometown Post-Dispatch: “Obviously, there was no television back then and, honestly, the World Cup wasn’t nearly as big a deal as it is now. We knew what we’d accomplished was something very special, but I don’t think most people back home, even soccer people, had any idea how major an upset it was.
“Was it the greatest upset in history? I think so. In the  World Cup, when Senegal beat defending champion France, almost all of the players for Senegal were first-division players from top leagues all over the world. We had a team of nobodies.
“I’d say the [USA] hockey team’s win [over the Soviet Union at the 1980 Olympics] was probably more significant because they went on to win that tournament. But there’s no way anybody, including us, expected the U.S. to beat England in 1950.”