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April 2, 1932 – New Bedford Whalers win U.S. Open Cup

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Stix, Baer & Fuller 2:5 (5:8) New Bedford, National Challenge Cup final at Sportsman’s Park. Billy Gonsalves scored twice, including the aggregate go-ahead goal on a free kick 18 minutes into the second half, according to an Associated Press report. (Other sources credit Gonsalves with one goal in the game – and a record 14 goals in U.S. Open Cup finals; Gonsalves could actually have totaled 15 goals). The New Bedford team was essentially the Fall River Marksmen, who had won the 1930 and ’31 Challenge Cup titles, owner Sam Mark moving the franchise for the 1932 season (difficult to understand why Mark moved to New Bedford, as he controlled Mark’s Stadium near Fall River).

The record for U.S. Open Cup titles is five (Bethlehem Steel and Los Angeles Maccabi), but Gonsalves holds the individual title with eight victories (playing for five teams). This was the third of six successive U.S. Open Cup championships for Gonsalves, who was 23 years old at the time.

Before his 27th birthday, Gonsalves won six U.S. Open Cup titles, four ASL championships, an American Football Association Cup and Lewis Cup, plus played in two World Cups.

At one time, Gonsalves had been dubbed “The Babe Ruth” of U.S. soccer (I recall seeing this in National Soccer Hall of Fame literature in the 1980s), but the first mentions of a soccer “Babe Ruth” I’ve seen referenced Archie Stark, who scored 67 goals for Bethlehem Steel during the 1924-25 ASL season. Gonsalves might have made a mark in baseball, refusing contract offers from the New York Yankees and St. Louis Cardinals as a first baseman/pitcher prospect. In any case, Gonsalves appears to have been a phenomenal player. Soccer historians and opposing players said he could have played for teams at the highest levels of the game anywhere in the world (he was offered contracts by top clubs in Brazil and Europe), his accuracy and power from distance among his strengths.

And Gonsalves might have scored even more goals in U.S. Cup finals, if not for Stix, Baer & Fuller goalkeeper Charlie Labarge, who made 33 “stops” in the 1932 final.

THIS DAY IN NEW ENGLAND SOCCER HISTORY

 

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