Joseph Anthony Pepitone (October 9, 1940 – March 13, 2023) was an American professional baseball first baseman and outfielder who played in Major League Baseball (MLB) for the New York Yankees, Houston Astros, Chicago Cubs, and Atlanta Braves from 1962 to 1973 and for the Yakult Atoms of Nippon Professional Baseball in 1973. Pepitone was a three-time MLB All-Star and won three Gold Glove Awards.
|First baseman / Center fielder|
|Born: October 9, 1940|
Brooklyn, New York, U.S.
|Died: March 13, 2023 (aged 82)|
Kansas City, Missouri, U.S.
|MLB: April 10, 1962, for the New York Yankees|
|NPB: June 20, 1973, for the Yakult Atoms|
|MLB: May 25, 1973, for the Atlanta Braves|
|NPB: August 19, 1973, for the Yakult Atoms|
|Runs batted in||721|
|Runs batted in||2|
|Career highlights and awards|
Pepitone was born in Brooklyn, New York, and raised in Park Slope. He had two younger brothers. Pepitone attended Manual Training High School.
Pepitone was shot by a classmate at age 17 while at school. He did not press charges against the shooter. In the same week, his father died from a stroke at age 39.
New York YankeesEdit
In August 1958, Pepitone signed with the New York Yankees as an amateur free agent. He played in 16 games for the Auburn Yankees of the Class D New York–Pennsylvania League after signing.
After playing four seasons in the minor leagues, Pepitone broke in with the New York Yankees in 1962, playing behind Moose Skowron at first base. He batted .239 in 63 games in 1962. Yankees management believed he could handle the first base job and traded Skowron to the Los Angeles Dodgers before the 1963 season. Pepitone batted .271 with 27 home runs and 89 runs batted in (RBIs) in 1963. In the 1963 World Series, he committed a costly error. With the score tied 1–1 in the seventh inning of Game Four, he lost a routine Clete Boyer throw in the white shirtsleeves of the Los Angeles crowd, and the batter, Jim Gilliam, went all the way to third base and scored the Series-winning run on a sacrifice fly by Willie Davis. In 1964, Pepitone batted .251 with 28 home runs and 100 RBIs. In the 1964 World Series against the St. Louis Cardinals, he hit a grand slam in Game 6, but the Yankees lost the series.
Pepitone batted .247 in 1965 and .255 in 1966, as the Yankees finished 70–89, a mark good for last place. He batted .251 in 139 games in 1967 and .245 in 108 games in 1968. Pepitone began to feud with the Yankees in 1969, leaving the team without permission for two days in August. He batted .242 with 27 home runs in the 1969 season.
After the 1969 season, despite having won his third Gold Glove Award, the Yankees traded Pepitone to the Houston Astros for Curt Blefary. Unhappy with how he was treated by the Astros, he threatened to retire in July 1970. The Astros sold Pepitone to the Chicago Cubs on waivers a week later. In Chicago, Pepitone replaced Ernie Banks at first base. Pepitone retired in May 1972, but returned to the Cubs after a few weeks away from the team. The Cubs traded Pepitone to the Atlanta Braves for Andre Thornton, and cash considerations on May 19, 1973. In Atlanta, he played only three games, after which he announced his intention to retire.
Pepitone then announced his intention to continue his career in Japan. In June 1973, Pepitone accepted an offer of $70,000 ($461,000 today) a year to play for the Yakult Atoms in Nippon Professional Baseball's Central League. In July, he returned to the United States. While in Japan, he hit .163 with one home run and two RBIs in 14 games played. Pepitone spent his brief career in Japan skipping games for claimed injuries only to be seen out at night in discos, behavior which led the Japanese to adopt his name into their vernacular as a word meaning "goof off".
Life after baseballEdit
Jim Bouton wrote about Pepitone in his 1970 book Ball Four. Bouton said that Pepitone went nowhere without a bag containing hair products for his rapidly balding head and that he took to wearing toupees.
In January 1975, Pepitone published his own tell-all baseball memoir, titled Joe, You Coulda Made Us Proud. The book received substantial attention for its many revelations, particularly about his abusive father and his self-lacerating candor about his self-destructive ways. Later that year, he posed nude for Foxy Lady magazine, featuring full frontal nudity.
Professional softball careerEdit
The American Professional Slo-Pitch League (APSPL) was the first of several men's professional slow-pitch softball leagues formed in the United States during the late 1970s and early 1980s. It built on the growth and talent in the booming men's amateur game during this period.
Pepitone joined the Trenton Statesmen of the APSPL, and put up respectable numbers in 1978 (110–225, .489, 14 HRs, 61 RBIs) and 1979 (50–122, .410, 9 HRs, 30 RBIs). The Detroit Caesars offered $30,000 to the Statesmen to buy Pepitone's contract in 1978. That offer was rejected. After the Trenton franchise disbanded in 1979, Pepitone became the team president and first baseman for Chicago Nationwide Advertising of the North American Softball League (NASL) during their 1980 season. Pepitone was suspended for six games by NASL Commissioner Robert Brown for "conduct detrimental to professional softball" and was out for the season in August with a thigh injury. The Yankees then hired him as a minor league hitting instructor at the end of the NASL season, bringing his professional softball career to a close.
In October 1980, Pepitone was hired as a minor league hitting coach with the Yankees and brought to the major league club in June 1982. He was replaced by Lou Pinella in August of that summer. After Pepitone was sent to prison, Yankee owner George Steinbrenner re-hired him in 1988 as part of a work-release program to serve in the development of minor league players. Pepitone received a 1999 World Series ring for his relationship with the Yankees. He subsequently sold that ring at auction.
Pepitone and two other men were arrested in Brooklyn on March 18, 1985, after being stopped by the police for running a red light. The car contained nine ounces of cocaine, 344 quaaludes, a free-basing kit, a pistol, and about $6,300 in cash. Pepitone denied knowing there were drugs and guns in the vehicle. He spent four months at Rikers Island jail in 1988 for two misdemeanor drug convictions.
In January 1992, Pepitone was charged with misdemeanor assault in Kiamesha Lake, New York, after a scuffle police said was triggered when Pepitone was called a "has-been." He was arraigned in town court and released after he posted $75 bail. In October 1995, the 55-year-old Pepitone was arrested and charged with driving while intoxicated after losing control of his car in New York City's Queens–Midtown Tunnel. Police found Pepitone bloodied, disoriented, and mumbling as he walked through the tunnel. Authorities charged Pepitone with drunken driving after he refused to take a sobriety test. Pepitone pleaded guilty. When asked if he was staying away from alcohol, Pepitone responded, "I don't drink that much."
Pepitone was married three times, all ending in divorce. He had five children.
On March 13, 2023, Pepitone died at his home in Kansas City, Missouri, at the age of 82.
- ^ a b c d e f g h "Joe Pepitone – Society for American Baseball Research".
- ^ "The Class of 1946–2018 Twenty-seven school-shooting survivors bear their scars, and bear witness". October 28, 2018. Retrieved November 9, 2018.
- ^ "Mt. Vernon Register-News 15 Oct 1964, page Page 6".
- ^ "Daily News 15 Aug 1969, page 75". Newspapers.com. August 15, 1969. Retrieved March 14, 2023.
- ^ Dursospecial, Joseph (December 5, 1969). "Yanks Trade Pepitone to Astros for Blefary;; INTERLEAGUE DEAL INVOLVES NO CASH Houk Plans to Use Blefary in Outfield – Walker Sees Change Helping Pepitone – The New York Times". The New York Times. Retrieved March 13, 2023.
- ^ "Astros' Pepitone Threatens to Retire – New York Times article, July 22, 1970". The New York Times. July 22, 1970. Retrieved March 13, 2023.
- ^ "Cubs Acquire Pepitone on Waivers – New York Times article, July 30, 1970". The New York Times. July 30, 1970. Retrieved March 13, 2023.
- ^ "Pepitone Quits Baseball; 'No Longer Interested' – New York Times article, May 3, 1972". The New York Times. May 3, 1972. Retrieved March 13, 2023.
- ^ "Pepitone to Return to Cubs 'to Help Win the Pennant' – New York Times article, June 1, 1972". The New York Times. June 1972. Retrieved March 13, 2023.
- ^ "Pepitone Is Traded By Cubs to the Braves – New York Times article, May 20, 1973".
- ^ "Pepitone Quits Again – New York Times article, May 27, 1973". The New York Times. May 27, 1973. Retrieved March 13, 2023.
- ^ "Pepitone Hoping to Do His Swinging in Japan – New York Times article, May 28, 1973". The New York Times. May 28, 1973. Retrieved March 13, 2023.
- ^ "Pepitone's a Hero in His Tokyo Debut Before 40,000 – New York Times article, June 24, 1973". The New York Times. June 24, 1973. Retrieved March 13, 2023.
- ^ "Pepitone Returns to U.S. – New York Times article, July 9, 1973". The New York Times. July 9, 1973. Retrieved March 13, 2023.
- ^ Markusen, Bruce. "Card Corner: 1973 Topps: Joe Pepitone," Hardball Times (May 31, 2013).
- ^ "Yankees remember Joe Pepitone, 'a favorite of generations' of fans". ABC7 New York. March 13, 2023.
- ^ "Homepage". August 23, 2015. Archived from the original on July 8, 2009. Retrieved September 18, 2009.
- ^ "Ludington Daily News – Google News Archive Search". news.google.com.
- ^ Feinstein, John (July 29, 1977). "Slow-Pitch Pros Fast Becoming Favorites" – via www.washingtonpost.com.
- ^ Carter, Russell (May 26, 1977). "Pro Slo-Pitch Softball Debuts Sunday" – via www.washingtonpost.com.
- ^ "Clipped From The Central New Jersey Home News". The Central New Jersey Home News. July 21, 1978. p. 13 – via newspapers.com.
- ^ "Clipped From Detroit Free Press". Detroit Free Press. August 2, 1978. p. 52 – via newspapers.com.
- ^ "Clipped From The Tampa Times". The Tampa Times. June 29, 1978. p. 27 – via newspapers.com.
- ^ "Clipped From Chicago Tribune". Chicago Tribune. May 14, 1980. p. 57 – via newspapers.com.
- ^ "Clipped From Chicago Tribune". Chicago Tribune. July 20, 1980. p. 50 – via newspapers.com.
- ^ "Clipped From Chicago Tribune". Chicago Tribune. August 11, 1980. p. 56 – via newspapers.com.
- ^ a b "Clipped From The Rock Island Argus". The Rock Island Argus. October 8, 1980. p. 28 – via newspapers.com.
- ^ Gross, Jane (June 6, 1982). "PEPITONE IS GRATEFUL TO REJOIN YANKEES (Published 1982)". The New York Times.
- ^ "Lou Piniella – Society for American Baseball Research".
- ^ "Pepitone Hired by Yanks (Published 1988)". The New York Times. July 15, 1988.
- ^ "Lot Detail – 1999 Joe Pepitone NY Yankees World Championship Ring". www.greyflannelauctions.com.
- ^ a b Buder, Leonard (October 23, 1986). "PEPITONE SENTENCED TO SIX MONTHS IN JAIL (Published 1986)". The New York Times.
- ^ Buder, Leonard (March 20, 1985). "PEPITONE ARRESTED ON DRUG CHARGES" – via NYTimes.com.
- ^ Buder, Leonard (March 21, 1985). "Pepitone's Lawyer Denies All Charges (Published 1985)". The New York Times.
- ^ "SPORTS PEOPLE: BASEBALL; Pepitone in Scuffle at Hotel Lounge". January 10, 1992 – via NYTimes.com.
- ^ "You Can Call Me Joe Pepitone". Long Beach (CA) Press-Telegram. October 26, 1995.
- ^ Karen Freifeld (February 23, 1996). "Joe Pepitone In Auto Plea". Newsday (Melville, New York). Archived from the original on July 5, 2017. Retrieved July 6, 2017.
- ^ Weber, Bruce (March 15, 2023). "Joe Pepitone, a Yankee Who Played And Partied With Gusto, Dies at 82". The New York Times. p. A21. Retrieved April 19, 2023.
- Bouton, Jim, and Leonard Shecter. Ball Four; My Life and Hard Times Throwing the Knuckleball in the Big Leagues. New York: World Pub. Co., 1970. 400 pages. (ISBN 0-9709117-0-X)
- Pepitone, Joe, and Berry Stainback. Joe, You Coulda Made Us Proud. Chicago: Playboy Press, 1975. 246 pages. (ISBN 0-87223-428-2)
- Pepitone, William A., and Joseph V. Soul of a Yankee: The Iron Horse, the Babe and the Battle for Joe Pepitone. Morrisville, North Carolina: Self-Published through lulu.com, 2011. 130 pages. (ISBN 0-55774-941-7)
- Yanks Harvest Bumper Farm Crop; Well-Balanced Array of Minor Leaguers Aids Champions All-Star Rookie Cast Includes Sons of Keller, Tresh – Mike Tresh's Son on List – New York Times article, January 3, 1962
- BROOKLYN TALENT AT YANKEE CAMP; Pepitone Stands Out – New York Times article, February 8, 1962
- YANKEE ROOKIES RATED BEST EVER; Houk Praises Tresh, Gibbs, Linz, Pepitone and Keller – New York Times article, February 25, 1962
- Mantle, Boyer Hit Homers As Yanks Top Orioles, 4–1; Yanks Turn Back Orioles, 4 to 1, On Homers by Mantle and Boyer – New York Times article, March 11, 1962
- Sports of The Times; Overheard at the Stadium – Time Marches On – Nuisance Hitter – The Hollywood Touch – New York Times article, April 11, 1962
- The Joe Pepitone Prayer: Don't Let Me Die in Japan; For 12 years—from 1962 – Joe Pepitone played first and outfield for the New York Yankees, Houston Astros and Chicago Cubs – New York Times article, May 19, 1974
- PEPITONE ARRESTED ON DRUG CHARGES – New York Times article, March 20, 1985
- Pepitone Is Indicted – New York Times article, May 4, 1985
- SPORTS PEOPLE; Pepitone Trial Starts – New York Times article, August 27, 1986
- PEPITONE IS GUILTY OF LESSER CHARGES – New York Times article, September 18, 1986
- PEPITONE SENTENCED TO SIX MONTHS IN JAIL – New York Times article, October 23, 1986
- Pepitone to Begin 6-Month Jail Term – New York Times article, May 17, 1988
- Pepitone Is Released – New York Times article, September 15, 1988
- SPORTS PEOPLE: BASEBALL; Pepitone Is Arrested – New York Times article, October 26, 1995
- Career statistics and player information from MLB, or ESPN, or Baseball Reference, or Fangraphs, or Baseball Reference (Minors), or Retrosheet
- Joe Pepitone at Baseballbiography.com