In Memoriam: Peter Piskei

A very proud Banat German from Romania, like many of our people Peter was forced to leave with his family and escape to Austria. There as a boy he played in various camp youth teams. He was good enough to play with what today would be considered equal to our high-level travel or academy teams. Playing across the region he developed into quite a good player. Interestingly, Peter and my Father, (Werner Fricker) often talked about the good possibility that they may have played on the same field against each other in the Salzburg region.

Peter arrived in the United States in 1955 and came to the German Hungarians immediately. He became a regular right away. Bill Wilkinson wrote in our history that by 1960 two players were regular fixtures around the club and on the Major team, he specifically mentioned Peter as one of them. I can’t remember my history; I am not sure when Bill Wilkinson came, but I once asked him how he came to us. He told me that Jack had called him to come to UGH. When he asked Jack who else was playing there, Jack listed a few other very good players and said also there were some very good German Guys including Peter Piskei. Bill told me he had seen Peter play and heard of his exploits on the field. It was the thought of playing with Peter that very much helped him decide.

A special group of men would become the backbone of the team which ultimately developed into National Champions. Pete Piskei was a major part of that group.

Their influence continued through several decades and even with a few slim years from time to time, their contributions led to great years beyond their own playing days, including the great success of the 90s, and another national title in 1999. I can tell you from first-hand knowledge that Peter and these other men and their teammates continue to have an influence on our team today. Peter always supported our teams and our players, I received many notes from former club players in the last few days, and I will share them later with the Piskei family.

Peter played his entire amateur career for only one club, the United German Hungarians from 1955 through 1969; he may have been one of the greatest players in our history.

He appeared several seasons for the United Soccer League All Stars, played in the 1964 National Final, the 1965 National Championship, and multiple League and State Championships. He was inducted into the Philadelphia Soccer Hall of Fame and was honored by the United German Hungarians with the 50 years of Soccer pin, and a 75 years of Soccer award.

In 1980 he was a recipient of the United German Hungarians Ehernwurdig Pin. He served on the Kirchweih Committee and served several years on the Board of Governors.

Our families spent a lot of time together in their playing days, pizza at Piskei’s after an away game, shore trips together and the great summer picnics! When the playing days were over we had these great picnics at Gehlerts, Paul’s, our house, and others. The best times were at Peter’s father’s house. The grilling of Opa Piskei was classic, but it was the one touch soccer games in a tiny area that were tops. Stevie, Ernie, and I just hanging out with a ball ready to play with these guys who we thought were the greatest, My Dad, Klaus, Adam, Franz, Hans, and Peter. It was always easy to convince Peter to play.

In 1962 it was written about Peter, “Pete is always one to give a good and spirited account of himself” It’s funny because I can recall several examples, When Carolyn became miss UGH and ultimately Miss German America, we were all very proud, and I remember saying to Peter, “I wonder why they don’t have a Mr. UGH?” he looked at me with this little smile and he said “they don’t have one because I would win every Year!”

That same article in 1962 said, “A fast, dribbler he is straight forward in style, and possesses a good shot and excellent ball control. Pete is capable of causing many uneasy moments for opposing goalkeepers, and he covers such a great deal of ground that no defenseman can afford to let him loose.” Another time we were watching a game together a few years ago, one of our forwards moved thru and beat a defender and was one on one with the keeper; our player went straight at the keeper lost control and lost the ball to the keeper. I turned to Peter and I asked him if he had been in that situation does he cut left cut right or what. Again, with the little smile he looked at me said, “I don’t need to cut I am faster and smarter than any of them, I know real fast what I am going to do, I beat the goalkeeper and put the ball in the net.”

He could be pretty funny with Jokes, mostly in German that don’t translate well, but I remember one. Peter talked about the guy who left the cabinet shop in Austria every day with a wheelbarrow full of sawdust, no one could figure out why, but after months they got it, the guy was stealing wheelbarrows! While Peter and my dad were very good friends I always felt a special bond myself with this great man. We spent a lot of time together talking about the game, our club, our work, and life. When my life and work changed a bit, he was always encouraging me to follow my trade and stick to what I knew best and what I like to do most.

A Carpenter and Master Cabinetmaker Peter learned his trade in Austria. Here in the Philadelphia area together with his brother and their Dad, they covered the world in Formica! He designed and built thousands of cabinets for my Dad, and many other builders and architects. His design skills were top shelf where he would hand sketch a job on site right in front of the customer, freehand. No auto cad or computer app. The quality of his work and service was second to none. For over 50 years we all can thank Peter and his family when we lean on our club’s iconic red bar top, for a cold beer or glass of wine, and look around the room at the cases which hold our trophies and awards.

I can’t speak personally about Peters Family Life. Others can do that better, I can tell you though he loved his Dad, His Mom, his sister, and his brother, He and Kathi were inseparable, and he spoke with that smile about his Carolyn and Christine. He was always telling me with the same smile about his grandchildren, and all the good things they were up to. The other day my Mom said to me “Peter was one of our family’s best friends. He is one of the nicest men I have known.” I feel the same and I know all of us are better people having spent time in our lives with Peter Piskei!

WF Jr.

Editor’s Note: Werner Fricker Jr. gave what I’ll call Peter’s “Club Eulogy” at his funeral at the request of his family. He ended the speech you’ve just read presenting a German Hungarian Red Shirt to Kathi, Carolyn and Christine, stating the following closing line,

“The German Hungarians do not retire numbers. But this was Peter’s shirt and we will make sure that from here forward whoever wears it will be worthy of the number.”


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