Philadelphia Soccer History

The life — and murder — of a U.S. Soccer president

Undated press photo of Elmer A. Schroeder

On Monday, Sep. 22, 1953, Philadelphia police were called to the Garden Court Apartments at 47th and Pine Streets in West Philadelphia. On the previous day, relatives and friends had repeatedly telephoned the four-room apartment on the third floor, but the 55-year-old man who lived there had not picked up the phone. Increasingly concerned, an aunt contacted one of the man’s friends, who in turn contacted the building’s resident manager.

All of the lights were “blazing” when the resident manager used a passkey to enter the apartment, which had been “neatly ransacked.”

In the bedroom, on a bed which had not been slept in, the manager found the battered body of the fully clothed man trussed face up to the bed with cords cut from Venetian blinds in the apartment’s living room, bedroom, and bathroom. The man’s hands were bound behind his back. The cord around the man’s feet, which were crossed at the ankles, was secured under the bed. “Looped into a garrote” around the man’s neck was another cord lashed to the bed’s headboard. Two blows, one to the top of the head, the other to the left temple — “evidently…vicious, brass knuckle blows” — had crushed the man’s skull. A sock had been stuffed into the man’s mouth, held in place by a torn bath towel tied around his face. When the body was later examined, heavy bruises were found on the lower part of the body, “particularly about the hips and thighs.”

The man had been dead for at least 24 hours.

“It’s one of the most vicious killings I’ve ever seen,” Detective Captain Bartholomew Gorman said.[1]

The Philadelphia Inquirer reported, “Robbery, detectives speculated, was at least one motive for the killing.” [Emphasis added.] According to the Courier-Post, “robbery did not appear to be the primary motive.” The implication was that the murder had a sexual angle.

In City of Sisterly and Brotherly Loves: Lesbian and Gay Philadelphia, 1945-1972, Marc Stein describes how subsequent coverage of the crime — sometimes explicitly and sometimes more subtly — hinted that “male same-sex sexualities” were involved in the case.

Reports emphasized the man was “unmarried,” that he had “lived alone” in “bachelor quarters” variously described as “lavishly furnished,” “richly decorated,” and “swank,” and that he had been seen at a gay bar in Center City in the company of “young men” shortly before he was murdered. Of initial interest in the murder investigation was a “young man,” a “male companion” who had briefly lived with the victim.

The Daily News soon described “striking parallels” with several other unsolved murders in the city: “Circumstances of all three slayings indicate that the murderer of each man had been on fairly intimate terms with each victim.”[2]

The press, using the coded language of the time, was identifying the man as gay.

The man found brutally murdered at the Garden Court Apartments was Elmer A. Schroeder, a prominent lawyer.

Twenty-one years before his death, Schroeder had been elected the first American-born president of the United States Football Association (USFA), known today as the United States Soccer Federation.


Philadelphia Inquirer, Oct. 15, 1929

The only son of German immigrants, Elmer A. Schroeder was born in Philadelphia on Feb. 25, 1898.

Growing up in the city’s Fairhill neighborhood, Schroeder graduated from Northeast High School. Attending Wharton at the University of Pennsylvania, Schroeder received an undergraduate degree in 1920, followed by a law degree from Penn. He maintained connections with his alma mater after beginning his career as a lawyer, receiving an appointment as an Instructor of Political Science in 1928 and later at Penn’s Law School.[3]

In 1917 while still an undergraduate at Penn, Schroeder began working with Lighthouse Boys Club as the director of the organization’s soccer program. Under his stewardship, Lighthouse became the premier developer of Philadelphia soccer talent. By 1925, the Philadelphia Inquirer observed Schroeder “deserves credit for the untiring manner in which he boosts the dribbling game among the youngsters.”[4] The next year, Schroeder organized the first interstate junior soccer games to be played in Philadelphia.[5] By 1927, Schroeder, “manager general par-excellence,” was overseeing some 30 teams at Lighthouse.[6]

Schroeder’s skill as an administrator at the club level was quickly recognized. In 1923, at the age of 25, he was elected to the executive board of the Middle Atlantic Boys’ Club Federation.[7] In 1925, he was elected to the Rules Committee of the Football Association of Eastern Pennsylvania and District (Eastern District), the governing body for soccer in the region, now called the Eastern Pennsylvania Soccer Association, and was also named as the organization’s delegate to the USFA.[8] A year after being named a delegate to the USFA, Schroeder was elected Third Vice President of the national governing body. In 1927, he was elected First Vice President.[9] One local report noted that between his duties managing Lighthouse Boys’ Club and at the USFA headquarters in New York, Schroeder “is thinking seriously of doing all his traveling through the air. All of which means that Mr. Schroeder may at some future time become recognized as a second Lindy.”[10] By the end of the decade, he would also serve terms as treasurer and vice president of the Eastern District and be elected president of Philadelphia’s top league, the Pennsylvania League.[11]

In 1928 at the age of 30, Schroeder was appointed the manager of the U.S. national soccer team for the Olympic games in Amsterdam. The Pittsburgh Press noted the appointment was “sufficient to raise eyebrows,” adding, “this admittedly bright and charming young man is practically untutored in the big things of soccer and cannot rank with other persons in ability and prestige.”[12]

Moreover, while it was believed that a team of professional American players could capably acquit itself against international opposition, there were concerns that amateur soccer in the United States was not sufficiently developed to realistically compete against more developed amateur sides from other countries which, “in many instances…are in a position to select just as powerful teams composed of simon pures as a team of profs.” Some suggested it would be best if the U.S. did not send a soccer team to the Games[13]

The U.S. team, which included four players from the Philadelphia area, trained at the Ajax grounds in Amsterdam, playing two warm up games against the Dutch side, the first finishing as a 1-1 draw, the second a 6-6 draw. On May 29, the U.S. faced South American champions Argentina, a team that had spent a long period before the Olympics playing warm up games in Europe and believed by many to include professional players. Twenty-five minutes into the game and already trailing 2-0, the U.S. goalkeeper was injured and suffered a concussion; Schroeder wrote in his report to the U.S. Olympic Committee that “only spirit and courage enabled him to continue in a dazed condition.”

Argentina finished the game 11-2 winners and the US was out of the Olympics. Schroeder wrote, “It can be candidly stated that America could have produced no combination, amateur or professional, that could have carried the colors into the second round with Argentina as an opponent in the first.” Perhaps more importantly, Schroeder noted the team “lost gracefully and as true sportsmen…in a manner which was an honor to the country they were chosen to represent.”[14]

Schroeder (back row, first on the left) with the U.S. team at the 1928 Olympics in Amsterdam. 

When the USFA met in Milwaukee after the Olympics at the end of June, Schroeder’s report on the Olympic team, which played a series of games in the Netherlands, Germany, and Poland after the tournament, received “enthusiastic endorsement from al [sic] but those who had fondly expected to have his place.” The Pittsburgh Press declared, “The selection of Elmer Schroeder as manager of the Olympic team proved to be a satisfactory one after all.”[15]

In 1930, Schroeder joined the U.S. team in Uruguay as the USFA representative at the first World Cup.[16] There the team, made up entirely of professional players save for Philadelphia’s James Gentle, advanced to the semifinals where they were defeated 6-1 by Argentina in a game once again affected by injuries to U.S. players.

Schroeder (back row, first on the left) at the 1930 World Cup in Uruguay.


Newspaper reports indicated Schroeder was last seen alive around midnight on Saturday, Sep. 19, 1953, at a downtown bar on Quince Street near Walnut Street, accompanied by another man known to the witness.

Beardsmore brought in for questioning. Philadelphia Inquirer, Sep. 23, 1953.

But of immediate interest to the police were the whereabouts of another man, described in newspaper reports as “a companion” who had lived with Schroeder at the Garden Court Apartments for a time until just before the murder.

A day after the first reports of Schroeder’s murder, James Clifford Beardsmore was picked up at his “well furnished” one-room apartment at Delancey Place near 21st Street and, after eight hours of questioning, was released by the police. Beardsmore told police he had first met Schroeder at a party earlier that summer. When Schroeder became ill in July, he suggested that Beardsmore move in with him until he recovered. Beardsmore did so, but only after stipulating that he would pay part of the rent because he “didn’t want to be a moocher.” He said he had not seen Schroeder since Sep. 1, although he had spoken to him on the phone.

Perhaps because of his recent illness, friends told police that Schroeder had not been drinking for some time until just before his murder. Fred Jordan, the manager of the bar and restaurant at the Garden Court Apartments, described Schroeder as a regular patron who “had run up a bill of $165 at the time of his death.” Not that Schroeder wasn’t good for the tab. Jordan recalled on one occasion, “Schroeder was at the bar with two young men and displayed a check for $10,000 which he gave to one of his companions to deposit for him in a bank.”[17]

While police worked to establish Schroeder’s final movements they also examined his long distance phone records and removed 10 large cartons of business and personal papers from his apartment for inspection in an attempt to establish a motive for his murder. Police said they had received some 50 letters from people who knew Schroeder and wanted to help the investigation.

On Sep. 26, more than 100 people attended Schroeder’s funeral at Arlington Cemetery in Drexel Hill.[18]

On Oct. 10, Philadelphia police issued a national alert naming Basil Kingsley Beck, a 20-year-old escaped convict, as the No. 1 suspect in Schroeder’s murder. A little more than a month before on Sep. 5, Beck and three other convicts had broken out of the Labette County jail in Oswego, Kan.

A little more than a month before on Sep. 5, Beck and three other convicts had broken out of the Labette County jail in Oswego, Kan. Four days later, the convicts were spotted in Trumann, Ark. In the gun battle that followed, one of the escapees was killed, and two others were captured, but Beck had already parted ways with his fellow escapees. By stealing cars, he made his way to Philadelphia.

Among the 135 acquaintances and friends of Schroeder questioned in the investigation, “waitresses, bartenders and several patrons” identified Beck as “an almost constant taproom companion of Schroeder during the last days,” with the pair last seen together on Sep. 18, three days before Schroeder’s murder. A Philadelphia newspaper report said Beck “moved from rooming house to rooming house” while he was in the city and was last seen on Oct. 5, “making the rounds of Pine and Spruce St. taprooms, apparently alone.” A nationally syndicated report said Beck “visited places frequented by homosexuals.”[19]

Basil Kingsley Beck, The Daily Times, March 1, 1954

On Mar. 1, 1954, his 21st birthday, Beck was placed on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted List.

Two days later, he was arrested in San Pablo, Calif., where he had been working for several weeks at an auto supply shop under an assumed name.[20] He was returned to Oswego to face charges related to his escape. While awaiting trial, another jailbreak occurred, but this time, Beck did not join the three prisoners who escaped. Instead, he helped to free Sheriff John Burris, who had been locked in a cell after being overpowered in the breakout.[21]

When questioned about the Schroeder murder, Beck acknowledged he had been in Philadelphia but said he knew nothing of the murder and had “never heard of the attorney.” On Apr. 9, he was sentenced to a minimum of 27 years for the charges related to his escape. Philadelphia police did not request his extradition for the murder of Schroeder.[22]

Police soon had another suspect.

On Apr. 29, Francis X. Ballem was arrested by Upper Darby police after a trunk left at the Sharon Hill trolley stop was found to contain the dismembered partial remains of a man later identified as John Dopirak, a World War Two veteran from Chester who sometimes worked as a merchant seaman. When he was arrested, Ballem was hiding in the attic of his Bywood home with a suitcase containing the legs of his victim.

Ballem quickly confessed to the murder and led police to Naylor’s Run in Upper Darby Park where he had earlier disposed of Dopirak’s lower torso. He claimed not to know the name of his victim, and identification of the remains was delayed because, before dismembering the body with a carpenter’s saw, Ballem had burned the face and hands with a blowtorch, covered the remains in lime and camphor, and wrapped the body parts in plastic raincoats. When he was eventually shown a photograph of Dopirak, Ballem recognized him immediately and said, “Oh, yes, that’s the man. I’ll never forget that smile.”

Ballem told police he had met Dopirak at an orange drink stand at 12th and Market streets before spending much of the rest of the day at a hotel bar at 13th and Filbert. After that, the pair went to Ballem’s home in Bywood, where Ballem shot Dopirak and stayed with the body for two days before dismembering it. Ballem later claimed self-defense although he admitted he planned to rob his victim. Asked about his “predilection for taprooms,” Ballem reportedly told police he was doing research for a book “about those places and the people who frequent them.”[23]

Police investigated for a link between Ballem and Schroeder and the unsolved murders of three other gay men, but they had no success connecting him to those crimes. The Schroeder investigation continued, and “numerous suspects were picked up but released for lack of evidence.”[24]

Schroeder’s killer was still at large.


With his increased involvement in soccer at the national and international level, Schroeder stepped down from Lighthouse in 1931, although his involvement in Philadelphia soccer continued as president of the Pennsylvania League.

On June 18, 1932, Schroeder, now 34, was elected president of the USFA.[25] In addition to the election of Schroeder, a prime order of business at the USFA convention in Baltimore was a move to return professional soccer to the control of the USFA. The country’s leading professional league, the American Soccer League (ASL), had begun play in the fall of 1921 with great expectations, but disputes between the league and the USFA soon followed, culminating in the Soccer War of the 1928-29 season. The USFA declared the ASL an outlaw league while backing the formation of a new professional league, the Eastern Soccer League. Matters were not helped by the advent of Great Depression, and by the time of Schroeder’s election, the ASL was on its last legs.

On Nov. 19, 1932, Schroeder announced that a Philadelphia team would play in a new ASL, with the team largely based on the Disston club, the team he managed in the Pennsylvania League. Disston was made up of “the pick of the local district” and, perhaps because of Schroeder’s involvement with the 1930 US World Cup team, also included Bert Patenaude, the first-ever player to score a hat trick at the World Cup.[26] Backing the team would be the city’s German American club, founded in 1924 by the Philadelphia German Rifle Club as First German SC, and from which the new team would get its name, with games played at 8th Street and Tabor Road.[27]

The German Americans, whose players retained their amateur status in the professional league, had a rough start in their first season in the ASL, finishing bottom of the table, but the team advanced as far as the quarterfinals of the 1933 National Challenge Cup, known today as the U.S. Open Cup, and won the National Amateur Cup with a 5-1 victory over Pittsburgh’s McKnight Beverage team on Apr. 23, 1933, the same year that Schroeder’s proposal that all amateur players registered with the USFA must pay a registration fee was unanimously adopted at the USFA’s annual meeting.[28] The team won the amateur title again on April 21, 1934, prevailing 2-1 over another Pittsburgh team, Heidelberg SC.

One week before the German Americans won their second national amateur championship, Schroeder was named manager of the U.S. team for the 1934 World Cup in Italy. Five German American players were on the team’s roster.[29] Because the U.S. had been late in applying to enter the tournament, the team was required to play Mexico in a playoff game in Rome on May 24, 1934. The U.S. won 4-2, with all four goals being scored by Aldo “Buff” Donelli. The US team then had the misfortune of drawing host country Italy for their first game of the tournament, which that year featured a single-elimination format. On May 27, Donelli scored the lone U.S. goal in the 7-1 defeat to the eventual World Cup winners. Out of the tournament, the U.S. team played a short series of friendlies in Germany before returning home.[30]

At the annual USFA meeting in July following the 1934 World Cup, Schroeder announced he would not stand for re-election as president “because of [the] pressure of business.”[31] Nevertheless, less than a month later, Schroeder was appointed by the USFA to oversee the new ASL, with the Philadelphia Inquirer referring to him as “the ‘Judge Landis’ of professional soccer,” a reference to Kenesaw Mountain Landis, the former federal judge who was commissioner of Major League Baseball. At the same meeting, Schroeder was named the chairman of the US Olympic Committee on Soccer and a member of the USFA appeals committee.[32]

Schroeder’s German Americans bounced back from their last place finish in the 1933-34 ASL season to win the 1934-35 championship, finishing with 18 wins, three losses, and one tie, six wins better than the second place New York Americans. While they finished the 1935-36 season fourth place in the ASL, on May 3, 1936, they defeated St. Louis Shamrocks 3-1 in Philadelphia after a 2-2 draw in St. Louis on Apr. 26 to become the first-ever amateur team to win the US Open Cup. A few weeks later, the German American’s were defeated in the semifinals of the National Amateur Cup in their bid to capture a third national amateur championship.[33]

Schroeder (front row, first on the left) and the German American team depart for St. Louis and the first game of the 1936 US Open Cup final. Philadelphia Inquirer, April 25, 1936.

The success of Schroeder’s amateurs meant the US team for the 1936 Olympics in Berlin included nine players from the German Americans, but the team was still short of the money needed to finance the trip. At the annual USFA meeting just weeks before the team was set to depart for the Games, a speech by Schroeder proved to make the difference, the Pittsburgh Press reporting the “masterful portrayal of his subject swung a rather hesitant, and in some quarters defiant meeting, into contributing $2,000 towards the cost of sending an Olympic soccer team to Berlin.”[34] Schroeder was again named manager of the team and, once again, the tournament utilized a knockout format. Unfortunately for the U.S. team, they also were once again paired with Italy for their first game and lost, this time 1-0, in a game marked by rough play by the Italian side.[35]

A little more than a month after the U.S. team returned home, Schroeder announced the German Americans would turn professional, save for one player who was still a student at Temple University.[36] In July of 1937, Schroeder stepped down from managing the German Americans in order “to take a much-needed rest.” One report said that, under Schroeder, the team had “compiled the greatest record of any soccer outfit in this country.”[37] But Schroeder’s rest was brief. In September, he managed the U.S. team that traveled to Mexico for three games for the Castillo Najera Cup.[38] In October, Schroeder served as the arbitrator in a dispute between the USFA and the US Referees’ Association.[39]

Schroeder was elected president of the ASL in July 1939, a position he held until 1942, during which time he was also chairman of the USFA’s Foreign Relations Committee.[40]

A month later, he returned to managing in club soccer with the Trenton Americans in the Pennsylvania League, with the team to be used as a farm club for the German Americans.[41] After the US entered the Second World War, the Philadelphia German-Americans became the Philadelphia Americans. Under manager Emil Schillinger, the Americans won the 1941-42 ASL championship. As the 1943-44 champions, they were presented with a new trophy, the Elmer Schroeder Cup, donated to the league by the team’s former manager.[42] The “Amerks” won the championship again in 1946-47 before Schroeder returned as manager for the 1947-48 season, winning the championship once more before stepping down after the season “due to business.”[43]

On March 3, 1951, the Philadelphia Old Timers Association, the founders of the National Soccer Hall of Fame, inducted Schroeder into the Hall.[44]

Two and a half years later, he was murdered in his apartment.


Almost exactly two years after he was murdered, Philadelphia police named a new suspect in Schroeder’s murder, Thomas C. Wetling Jr., a 22-year-old sailor assigned to the US Navy destroyer USS Hale. Wetling had been implicated in Schroeder’s murder by a person who was being questioned by the FBI in an unrelated investigation. According to the informant, Wetling and Schroeder knew each other, and after a night of drinking, Wetling accompanied Schroeder to his apartment where they quarreled “about money and other things” before Wetling committed the murder.

After the tip, the Office of Naval Intelligence put Wetling under surveillance. When authorities used the pretext of issuing new identification cards in order to take a photograph of Wetling, he became suspicious and went AWOL while the destroyer was docked in New York City. Apprehended two days later, he was placed in the brig while the ship traveled to its home port in Newport, R.I. Philadelphia detectives questioned him there and noted he bore “a striking resemblance” with the previous suspect, Basil Kingsley Beck.[45]

Wetling extradited to Philadelphia. Philadelphia Inquirer, October 30, 1955.

Wetling initially denied being in Philadelphia at the time of Schroeder’s murder. He then acknowledged he could have been there but did not confess to the murder.

At a bail hearing, it was revealed the informant was James Clifford Beardsmore, the former roommate of Schroeder questioned and released by police in the days after the murder. Beardsmore had implicated Wetling while being questioned by the FBI for passing bad checks, and he was now “confined to a hospital for mental observation.” According to newspaper reports, the only evidence the police had against Wetling was Beardsmore’s statement.

Nevertheless, on Feb. 18, 1956, Wetling was indicted for murder.[46]

Four years to the day after the murder, jury selection was completed for the trial of Thomas Wetling. On Sep. 23, 1957, Assistant District Attorney Harry Shrager asked for the death penalty for the “merciless killing” of Schroeder, which Shrager described as “a willful, deliberate and premeditated killing done possibly in the commission of a robbery by someone with a heart of stone.”

“You can fight a man and hit him,” Shrager said, “but you don’t tie him up and gag him until he dies.”

During the trial, Beardsmore testified that he had loaned Wetling a suit on Sep. 19, 1953, the pants of which he later found in a closet “covered with blood.” Beardsmore explained, “I asked Wetling about them, and he said he had an argument with Schroeder, that he hit him several times and tied him up to prevent an outcry.” According to Beardsmore, Wetling later told him, “It’s too bad the way things turned out, I didn’t mean to kill him.”[47]

Detective Sergeant John McBride testified that, when questioned in Newport, Wetling claimed, “I don’t know nothing about nothing.” When shown photographs of the scene of the murder and Schroeder’s beaten body, McBride said that Wetling “turned white, sweated and shook like a leaf for three minutes.”[48]

The prosecution’s case contained no physical evidence against Wetling, only Beardsmore’s testimony and inconsistent identifications of the defendant by witnesses. Taking the stand in his own defense, Wetling denied that he had ever met or known Schroeder and also denied he had ever told Beardsmore he had killed him.

The case was sent to the jury on Sept. 25, 1957. After deliberating for only 20 minutes, the jury of five men and seven women declared Wetling not guilty of the murder.[49]

Shortly after he was acquitted, Wetling disappeared from Philadelphia, leaving behind a wife and two young children.

On Oct. 6, 1958, a man named Donald Britton murdered Wetling in Hollywood Hills, Calif. The two had been partners in a business that sold detective correspondence courses and detective equipment and was run out of Britton’s home. Wetling had lived with Britton, who had also paid for Wetling to be trained as an electronics technician, until six weeks before the murder. When Wetling returned to the home to discuss the division of profits and ownership of the business, an argument ensued. Britton shot him five times. Britton had appeared as a character witness for Wetling during the Schroeder murder trial.[50]

In April 1960, James Beardsmore was arrested for credit card fraud in Pittsburgh. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported that Beardsmore “had a cultivated taste for good clothes, good liquors, good food and such famed hotels as the Waldorf-Astoria and the Hilton.” While Beardsmore claimed the closest thing he had to a permanent address was Pittsburgh’s Golden Hilton, one detective thought “Beardsmore may have a different and much more permanent address after the FBI gets through following his trail of carte blanche high living on credit through several states.”[51]

Elmer A. Schroeder was director of soccer at Lighthouse Boys Club when he was 19. He was a USFA delegate at the age of 27, and manager of the US Olympic soccer team at 30. He was 34 when he was elected to become the first American-born president USFA. He was manager of the US World Cup team at the age of 36, ASL champion manager at 37, US Open Cup champion manager and Olympic manager again when he was 38. At 41, he was ASL president and when he was 50 he was once again manager of another ASL championship team. At the age of 53, he was inducted into the National Soccer Hall of Fame. At least a dozen players on teams he managed would themselves be inducted into the Hall.

Elmer A. Schroeder, one of the most significant administrators and managers of his day, was an American soccer pioneer.

No one was ever convicted for his murder.


[1] “Hunt Friend In Slaying of Attorney,” Philadelphia Inquirer, September 22, 1953, 1,16; “Cops Hunt Friend in Slaying of Phila. Lawyer,” The Courier-Post, September 22, 1953, 1,5.
[2] Marc Stein, City of Sisterly and Brotherly Loves: Lesbian and Gay Philadelphia, 1945-1972, (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2004), 117-120.
[3] Elwood Baher Cunningham, ed., The Record of the Class of Nineteen hundred and Twenty (1920), 102; “Additional Faculty Appointments Listed,” The Pennsylvanian, October 2, 1928, 1-2; Cops Hunt Friend in Slaying of Phila. Lawyer,” Courier-Post, September 22, 1953, 1,5.
[4] Roger Allaway, Colin Jose, David Litterer, The Encyclopedia of American Soccer History, (Lanham: The Scarecrow Press, 2001), 260; Levi Wilcox, “With the Soccermen,” Philadelphia Inquirer, December 8, 1925, 26.
[5] Levi Wilcox, “New England Junior Champions Will Come Here for Interstate Soccer Honors,” Philadelphia Inquirer, September 25, 1926, 19.
[6] Levi Wilcox, “Kicks from the Corner,” Philadelphia Inquirer, October 10, 1927, 27; Levi Wilcox, “Soccer Progressing at Lighthouse,” Philadelphia Inquirer, December 26, 1927, 12.
[7] “Boys’ Friends Honor 3 Philadelphians,” Philadelphia Inquirer, December 2, 1923, 2.
[8] Levi Wilcox, “Stewart Elected Soccer President,” Philadelphia Inquirer, October 13, 1925, 21.
[9] Harry H. Fairfield, “Bomb Sprung in Election of Armstrong,” The Pittsburgh Press, June 12, 1926, 31; “Valley Soccer League Closes with Banquet,” The Morning Call, June 8, 1929, 18; Wilcox, Philadelphia Inquirer, October 15, 1929, 21.
[10] Levi Wilcox, “Benny M’Laughlin, Former Fleisher Star, To Quit; Injury Forces Retirement,” Philadelphia Inquirer, January 4, 1928, 23.
[11] “Protest Victory of Portugal F.C.,” The Morning Call, June 5, 1929, 23; Levi Wilcox, “Blamphin Will Again Lead Eastern District State Soccer Magnates,” Philadelphia Inquirer, October 15, 1929, 21; Levi Wilcox, “Kicks from the Corner,” Philadelphia Inquirer, December 24, 1929, 15.
[12] “Schroeder Named Olympic Manager,” The Morning Call, April 20, 1928, 34; Harry H. Fairfield, “Soccer Hope is Killed,” The Pittsburgh Press, April 22, 1928, Sports Section 6.
[13] Levi Wilcox, “Olympic Selection Creates Dissension,” Philadelphia Inquirer, April 30, 1928, 18.
[14] Elmer A. Schroeder, “Report of Manager, Soccer Team,” American Olympic Committee Report: Ninth Olympic Games, Amsterdam, Holland, 1928, (New York: American Olympic Committee, 1928), 271-282. Among the recommendations Schroeder made after the Olympics was increasing the number of players sent to future games from sixteen to twenty-two “to facilitate training, to permit exhibition games to be played frequently and to guard against weakening the team by injuries”.
[15] Harry H. Fairfield, “Soccer Session Placid,” The Pittsburgh Press, July 1, 1928, 39. Including the loss to Argentina, the 1928 U.S. Olympic team compiled a record of one win, five losses, and three draws in Europe. In addition to the draws against Ajax on May 24 and 26, and the loss against Argentina on May 29, the U.S. lost 3-2 to the Netherlands in a friendly on June 1 before defeating Werder Bremen 3-2 on June 6. On June 10, the US lost 4-3 to Altona in Hamburg before drawing 3-3 in Warsaw to Poland on June 11. The arduous schedule and injuries resulted in a 6-0 loss to Lodz on June 12 and a 7-0 loss to Poznan on June 13. See Schroeder, 271-282.
[16] “World’s Soccer Tourney Opens in South America,” The Morning Call, July 12, 1930, 16.
[17] “Police Clear Friend of Slain Lawyer,” Philadelphia Inquirer, September 23, 1953, 1, 40.
[18] “Papers Studied in Slaying,” Philadelphia Inquirer, September 25, 1953, 22; “Police Checking Phone Calls in Lawyer Slaying,” Philadelphia Inquirer, September 26, 1953, 9.
[19] “Convict Is Top Suspect In Slaying of Attorney,” Philadelphia Inquirer, October 11, 1953, B6; “Seek Convict in Murder of Schroeder,” Philadelphia Inquirer, October 10, 1953, 1, 10; James Lee, “Ten Top FBI Cases — No. 8,” The Daily Times (New Philadelphia, Ohio), June 3, 1955, 6.
[20] “Philadelphia Murder Fugitive Placed in FBI’s ‘Top 10,” Philadelphia Inquirer, March 2, 1954, 10;  “FBI Captures Suspect in Schroeder Murder; On ‘Most Wanted’ List,” Philadelphia Inquirer, March 4, 1954, 1.
[21] “3 Oswego Jail Escapees Hunted Near Welch, Okla.,” The Joplin Globe, March 31, 1954, 1.
[22] “Tires of Fugitive Role,” Kansas City Times, April 7, 1954, 8 (40); “Basil Beck, 27 Years,” Kansas City Times, April 10, 1954, 1 (45).
[23] “Torso Timetable,” Delaware County Times, May 1, 1954, 2; “Torso Slayer Identifies Former Seaman as Victim,” Philadelphia Inquirer, May 3, 1954, 1, 8.
[24] “Quiz Schroeder Suspect in Navy After New Tip,” Philadelphia Inquirer, September 24, 1955, 13.
[25] “Elmer A. Schroeder Heads Big Soccer Body,” Philadelphia Inquirer, June 19, 1932, 24.
[26] “Big League Soccer for Philadelphia; Declares Schroeder,” Philadelphia Inquirer, November 20, 1932, 30.
[27] “Soccer Boomed This Year,” Philadelphia Inquirer, December 25, 1932, 4S; Ed Farnsworth, “Philadelphia German Americans win the 1936 US Open Cup,” The Philly Soccer Page, retrieved July 20, 2017,
[28] “Soccer Players Must Pay,” The Pittsburgh Press, June 14, 1933, 26.
[29] “Stars of Stix and Pawtucket are Invited to Final Tryouts,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, April 13, 1934, 18.
[30] Ed Farnsworth, “The US and the 1934 World Cup,” The Philly Soccer Page, retrieved July 20, 2017,
[31] “St. Louis Soccer League Granted Direct Affiliation By Officials of the U.S.F.A.,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, July 14, 1934, 11.
[32] “Elmer A. Schroeder is Pro Soccer Czar,” Philadelphia Inquirer, August 13, 1934, 12.
[33] Ed Farnsworth, “Philadelphia German Americans win the 1936 US Open Cup,” The Philly Soccer Page, retrieved July 20, 2017,
[34] Harry Fairfield, “Illinois Man New Prexy of National Soccer Body,” The Pittsburgh Press, June 28, 1936, 17. Soccer was not included in the program of the 1932 Olympics, which was staged in Los Angeles. Many believed the US should not participate in the 1936 Olympics because the Games were being turned into a propaganda vehicle by the Nazis. David Wangerin writes Schroeder and then USFA president Joe Barriskill thought participation was “justifiable–so much so that Schroeder received a special award from the Reich in recognition of his efforts.” Wangerin does not provide further detail about the award. David Wangerin, Soccer in a Football World (London: WSC Books, 2006), 99-100.
[35] “Yankees Boot Squad Loses Hard Fought Tilt to Italy, 1-0,” The Reading Times, August 4, 1936, 12. After an Italian player injured Philadelphia’s Bill Fiedler, the German referee tried to eject the Italian player three times “but finally gave up” after “half dozen Italian players swarmed over the referee, pinning his hands to his side and clamping hands over his mouth.”
[36] “German-American Eleven of Philly to Boot for Pay,” The Reading Times, October 8, 1936, 16.
[37] “Davies to Pilot Amerck Booters,” The Reading Times, July 1, 1937, 14.
[38] “Reading Man on Soccer Team Going to Mexico,” The Morning Call, August 27, 1937, 30. The U.S. fared poorly in their first match-up with Mexico since the 1934 World Cup playoff game, losing 7-2 on September 12, 7-3 on September 19, and 5-1 on September 26. Colin Jose, The United States and World Cup Soccer Competition: An Encyclopedic History of the United States in International Competition, (Metuchen: The Scarecrow Press, 1994), 47-48.
[39] “Soccer Moguls Refs Still Feud,” The Reading Times, October 23, 1937, 20.
[40] William Graham, “Schroeder is Named A.L. Soccer Head,” The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, July 19, 1939, 15; “Cuban Booters In Game Tonight,” Philadelphia Inquirer, September 3, 1941, 28.
[41] “Philadelphia Team Seeks Berth in Loop,” Mount Carmel Item, August 31, 1939, 9.
[42] Harrisburg Telegraph, April 8, 1944, 9.
[43] Phila. Americans Beat Phoenix in Soccer, 7-2,” Philadelphia Inquirer, September 8, 1947, 22; “Mike Majkowski To Pilot Americans,” Philadelphia Inquirer, July 25, 1948, S8.
[44] Bill Graham, “Soccer Names 21 Old-Timers To Hall of Fame,” Brooklyn Daily Eagle, February 28, 1951, 21.
[45] “Sailor Accused in Slaying Of Noted Soccer Official in ’53,” Philadelphia Inquirer, September 28, 1955, 31.
[46] “Schroeder Case Suspect Quizzed,” Philadelphia Inquirer, October 30, 1955, 8B; Action Delayed in Schroeder Murder Case, Philadelphia Inquirer, November 1, 1955, 17. “Sailor Suspect Denied Bail in Schroeder Case,” Philadelphia Inquirer, November 3, 1955, 25; “Bail Allowed Suspect in Schroeder Murder,” Philadelphia Inquirer, November 22, 1955, 2; “Sailor Indicted in Attorney Death,” Philadelphia Inquirer, February 18, 1956, 13.
[47] “Prosecution Demands Wetling Be Sentenced To Death for Murder,” Philadelphia Inquirer, September 24, 1957, 31; “Ex-Sailor Acquitted in Schroeder Slaying,” Philadelphia Inquirer, September 26, 1957, 27;
[48] “State Rests Case At Wetling Trial In 1953 Slaying,” Philadelphia Inquirer, September 25, 1957, 43.
[49] “Ex-Sailor Acquitted in Schroeder Slaying,” Philadelphia Inquirer, September 26, 1957, 27.
[50] “Detective School Owner Slays Former Partner,” Los Angeles Times, October 7, 1953, 5; “Former Sailor Freed In W. Phila. Slaying Shot, Killed in West,” Philadelphia Inquirer, October 17, 1958, 20.
[51] “He Lives High On the Cuff,” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, April 26, 1960, 5.


  1. I have been reading up extensively on this case too and its seems to me the strongest suspect, in this case, is James Clifford Beardsmore.
    I believe the police were too quick to rule him out and it seems they did so it on the basis that they believed Schroeder’s murderer, according to the coroner, was committed by a ”husky”(well built) man who was capable of inflicting such heavy blows to the body. Did they think Beardsmore was too effeminate I wonder?
    And Beardsmore failed to mention Wetling when he was first questioned by detectives shortly after Schroeder’s body was discovered. And he only did so a few years later after being arrested by the FBI.
    But then again he must have known Wetling for him to give his name to investigators.
    I also wonder if the reason for Wetling going AWOL was because he feared he was to be ”outed”. That, I believe, especially in this era, would have resulted in his court martial.
    And as for Wetling being disturbed by the photographs of Schroeder’s beaten body, I would expect this from an innocent person. I can certainly understand why the jury acquitted Wetling.

    • Jim O'Leary says:

      I agree Beardsmore is the highest point of suspicion here. Wetling doesn’t sound like he was a good guy, but everything he did does still leaves room for reasonable doubt.

      • Some more curious info about Beardsmore:
        When police sought him for questioning, a former roommate told detectives that Beardsmore had boasted of escaping from a mental institution. (Philadelphia Daily News, 22 Sept 1953). As the article above states, he would end up at an institution after the trial ended.
        When police arrived at his apartment to take him in for a questioning, they found newspapers containing the story of Schroeder’s murder. But this was understandable, said police, since he knew him. But they also found newspaper clippings of the shooting death of a retired baker the year before. His explanation for this was that he appeared in a photo that was connected to the case.
        There is no mention of what mental illness he suffered and this should not infer guilt. I did come across a case recently about man in the 1950s who was committed to a mental institution because of his homosexuality. So this may have been the case for Beardsmore?

  2. Zizouisgod says:

    Wow, what a story and beautifully written. Nice to read your work again, Ed.

  3. Ken Zo Lo says:

    So much history. Surprising that this many suspects were believably guilty. Also a great read to learn how much Schroeder did for soccer.

  4. SilverRey says:

    Thanks Ed! Good stuff!!

  5. Thanks for the great write-up! Good to read again something by you!

  6. el Pachyderm says:

    ED. ED. …..that’s Mr. Farnsworth.
    So good sir.

  7. This was an incredible read. Great work Ed.

  8. Fantastic story,great research, thanks for posting.

  9. Google Alerts alerted me to this; sad story, but I’m happy to see you pick up this thread of my research on Philadelphia LGBT history. I have (literally) more than a hundred newspaper articles (including many cited in my book and referenced here) about these types of cases in Philadelphia from the 1940s through the 1970s. I think it’s worth asking critical questions about how the police and the media handled these types of cases.

    • Ed Farnsworth says:

      Professor Stein,

      Your book was very important in helping me understand the context of the coverage of Schroeder’s murder and I am very grateful for your work. I also agree critical questions can be asked about how the police and the media handled these types of cases, and not just in the 1904s through the 1970s, the period your valuable book addresses.

      For a variety of reasons, the US soccer community has done a terrible job remembering many who made valuable contributions to the game but I can’t help but wonder how Schroeder’s sexuality and murder affected how his legacy is largely forgotten today.


  10. Buccistick says:

    Well, this certainly shades “Pride Day” soccer with a macabre twist (or three) …

  11. Carol Dwyer says:

    Great article. MY parents knew
    Mr. Schroeder. I have a picture of him on the ship that the team took for the 1936 Olympics.He also attended my parents wedding in 1937. His gift was a lamp from Bailey,Banks and Biddle which I still have.

    • James Brown says:

      Hello Carol,
      It’s nice to meet you. I’m a US soccer historian at the Society for American Soccer History (S.A.S.H), along with Ed Farnsworth. I’d be interested in talking with you more about Elmer and his family. Please contact me at Take care, James Brown

      P.S. My grandfather, Jim Brown, played on the 1930 World Cup team that Elmer helped manage from a delegation point of view during the trip to South America.

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