This past week, the Earthquakes organization lost a founding member of its family. Mike Mesaros, a midfielder for the club in San Jose’s inaugural season in 1974, passed away in Seattle. He was 82 years old.
Mesaros, a native of Yugoslavia, came to the United States in 1967 with the sole purpose of developing the beautiful game in America. He came to The States after a glorified career with Belgrade giants FK Partizan in the 1950’s during the club’s "Golden Era." Following stints with NASL club's Los Angeles Toros and the Oakland Clippers, “Meske" landed in San Jose, laying the foundation for a proud culture of Earthquakes soccer that still stands today.
"Mike really went out of his way to be apart of this Earthquakes organization that was starting to establish itself in the community and he did everything he could to make the club successful,” Quakes Hall of Famer Johnny Moore said.
Mesaros, nicknamed “Texas” by his teammates in San Jose because of his infatuation with American culture, was a skillful, quick winger for the Quakes. Known for his quiet demeanor off the field, he let his stellar play on the field do the talking, leading the club through the rigors of its first season.
"As a kid growing up in Europe, FK Partisan in Belgrade was one of the top clubs playing against the likes of Real Madrid and Manchester United,” Moore explained. "Obviously, anybody who comes from a club like that to America holds a lot of respect. He was a fun loving, classy guy on top of that, so he had everyone’s respect.”
Mesaros and Moore led the Quakes to their first-ever playoff appearance in their inaugural campaign, falling narrowly to the Dallas Tornado in Texas. After 20 years on the pitch, Mesaros decided to hang up his boots, officially retiring following San Jose’s first season.
Though his time in San Jose was short lived, his impact on the club, according to Moore, will be forever lasting.
"He played with a lot of big clubs throughout his career, but he had a very special place for the Earthquakes,” Moore said. "It was a special time in his life. He loved the guys. He loved the fans. He was a true Earthquake.”