Dec. 16, 2011
By Terry Kelly
ALBUQUERQUE, NM - Nobody could have predicted how Bill Piskorski's baseball career would start at the University of New Mexico in 1973. As it turned out, it was his favorite memory of playing for the Lobos.
The team won its first 17 games that season, including four wins by at least 10 runs, to set a school record for consecutive wins that still stands to this day.
"That team in '73 stands out most in my mind," Piskorski said when asked about his best memory of his playing days for UNM. "The friendships I made. I still have a lot of those as a matter of fact. One of (my former teammates) is my son's godfather. Those things stay with you and nurture."
A native of Peoria, Ill., Pirskorski played two years at Lincoln College in Lincoln, Ill., before transferring to play for the Lobos. There were two main factors in his decision to attend UNM: the tough competition in the Western Athletic Conference and the warm weather.
"I had never been to New Mexico before and I wanted to see different parts of the country," he said. "The program and the conference led me here. I could've gone to University of New Orleans but I wanted to come here. I wanted to head west."
Aside from being on that record-setting team, Piskorski also has one other claim to fame from his career with the Lobos. "I'm probably the smallest guy to ever play at New Mexico," he said laughing.
A natural second baseman, Piskorski moved around a bit during his years due to the number of solid players the Lobos had in the infield.
"I came here and they flip-flopped me back and forth between second and the outfield," he said. "I came here as infield, but we had some good hitters, so they flip-flopped me around out there in left and center."
After their season-opening winning streak, the Lobos struggled a bit against Arizona and Arizona St. in league play, but still finished the season with a 28-17 record and third place in the WAC. Piskorski showed excellent discipline at the plate, finishing fifth on the team in walks despite finishing eleventh on the team in plate appearances.
The following year, Piskorski's final with the team, he finished second on the team with a .327 batting average and again showed good plate discipline as he finished third on the team in walks. The Lobos struggled against the powerful Arizona schools again, but still finished with a 28-23 record and another third-place ranking in the WAC.
Piskorski finished his career with a .317 average in 76 games. He scored 38 runs, had 28 RBI, stroked 11 doubles, stole 10 bases and walked 36 times. After graduating with a degree in education, he stayed in the area and went into banking. He was also an assistant varsity head coach at Eldorado High School from 1983-1987. He now works at Southern Wine and Spirits of New Mexico, which he says is a huge supporter of Lobo athletics.
Piskorski has stayed very active in his support of the program. He has helped current Lobos coach Ray Birmingham with several fundraisers and golf tournaments, and thinks Birmingham is doing an exceptional job with the team.
"I love how he develops kids, and not just their physical talents," he said. "It's a different mental approach with how they go about their business. They're never out of any ballgame. The kids are tough, both mentally and physically. Last year's team was full of young kids, but they were prepared to play in the Mountain West Conference Tournament, and they won the thing."
After watching the team's success last year, Piskorski thinks there are bigger and better things in the team's near future.
"The sky's the limit with the program and team," he said. "I don't see us not winning the Mountain West Conference relatively soon, and then we can go to the College World Series soon. I wouldn't be surprised at all if we get to the College World Series in Omaha. I know Coach Birmingham preaches that and it's in the kid's mindsets."