Joe PepitoneJoe Pepitone First Baseman/ OutfielderBorn: October 9, 1940(1940-10-09) (age 67)
Brooklyn, New YorkBatted: Left Threw: Left MLB debut April 10, 1962
for the New York YankeesFinal game May 25, 1973
for the Atlanta BravesCareer statistics Batting average .258 Home runs 219 Runs batted in 721 Teams
Joseph (Joe) Anthony Pepitone (born October 9, 1940, in Brooklyn, New York) is a former Major League Baseball first baseman and outfielder for the New York Yankees (1962-1969), Houston Astros (1970), Chicago Cubs (1970-1973) and Atlanta Braves (1973).
- 1 Baseball career
- 2 Problems after baseball
- 3 See also
- 4 References
- 5 External links
In 1958, Pepitone was signed by the New York Yankees as an amateur free agent. After playing four seasons in the minor leagues, he broke in with the Yankees in 1962, playing behind Moose Skowron at first base. A much-discussed legend was that while on his way to 1962 spring training in Florida, Pepitone spent his entire $25,000 signing bonus. He bought a Ford Thunderbird, a boat which he towed with the Thunderbird, and a dog. He arrived at Yankees spring training in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, with a new car, a new boat, a new dog, and was wearing a new shark-skin suit.
Pepitone had a powerful swing and an excellent glove, and some of Pepitone's tougher friends thought he should be the regular first baseman ahead of Skowron. They offered to help Joe out by breaking Skowron's legs; Pepitone declined. The Yankee brass believed he could handle the job, and before the 1963 season traded Skowron to the Dodgers. Pepitone responded admirably, hitting .271 with 27 HR and 89 RBI. He went on to win three Gold Gloves, but in the 1963 World Series he made an infamous 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. He redeemed himself somewhat in the 1964 Series against the Cardinals with a Game 6 grand slam.
The ever-popular Pepitone remained a fixture throughout the decade, even playing center field after bad knees reduced Mickey Mantle's mobility. After the 1969 season he was traded to the Astros for Curt Blefary. Later he played for the Cubs and finished his major-league career with the Braves.
In June of 1973, Pepitone accepted an offer of $70,000 a year to play for the Yakult Atoms, a professional baseball team in Japan's Central League. While in Japan, he hit .163 with one home run and two RBIs in 14 games played. According to an edition of Total Baseball, Pepitone spent his days in Japan skipping games for claimed injuries only to be at night in discos, behavior which led the Japanese to adopt his name into their vernacular--as a word meaning "goof off".
Jim Bouton talks extensively about Pepitone in his book "Ball Four." Pepitone is described as being extremely vain. Bouton said that Pepitone went nowhere without a bag containing hair products for his rapidly balding head. Pepitone even had two toupees, one for general wear and one for under his baseball cap, which he called his "game piece." Bouton told a humorous story about how the game piece came loose one day when Pepitone took off his cap for the national anthem.
In 1975 he posed nude for Foxy Lady magazine, featuring full frontal nudity. In the late 70's, Pepitone played for the New Jersey Statesmen in the American Professional Slow Pitch League (APSPL), one of three professional softball leagues active during this period. Pepitone would also serve the front office of the North American Softball League (NASL) for their only season in 1980.
In the late 1990s, Pepitone was given a job in the Yankees' front office.
Problems after baseball
Pepitone spent four months at Rikers Island jail in 1988 for two misdemeanor drug convictions after he and two other men were arrested on March 18, 1985, in Brooklyn after being stopped by the police for running a red light in a car containing nine ounces of cocaine, 344 quaaludes, a free-basing kit, a pistol and about $6,300 in cash. He was released from jail on a work-release program when Yankee owner George Steinbrenner offered him a job in minor-league player development for the team.
In January of 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 of 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 pled guilty. When asked if he was staying away from alcohol, Pepitone responded: "I don't drink that much."
Pepitone currently resides in Farmingdale, New York, and spends his time signing autographs and baseball memorabilia at autograph shows.
- ^ "You Can Call Me Joe Pepitone", Long Beach (CA) Press-Telegram, October 26, 1995. Retrieved on 2006-10-12.
- ^ "Joe Pepitone In Auto Plea", Newsday (Melville, NY), February 23, 1996. Retrieved on 2006-10-12.
- 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)
- 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
- Yanks Trade Pepitone to Astros for Blefary;; INTERLEAGUE DEAL INVOLVES NO CASH Houk Plans to Use Blefary in Outfield -- Walker Sees Change Helping Pepitone - New York Times article, December 5, 1969
- Astros' Pepitone Threatens to Retire - New York Times article, July 22, 1970
- Cubs Acquire Pepitone on Waivers - New York Times article, July 30, 1970
- Pepitone Quits Baseball; 'No Longer Interested' - New York Times article, May 3, 1972
- Pepitone to Return to Cubs 'to Help Win the Pennant' - New York Times article, June 1, 1972
- 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
- Pepitone Hoping to Do His Swinging in Japan - New York Times article, May 28, 1973
- Pepitone's a Hero in His Tokyo Debut Before 40,000 - New York Times article, June 24, 1973
- Pepitone Returns to U.S. - New York Times article, July 9, 1973
- 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
- Sports Editor's mailbox: No Tears for Joe Pepitone - New York Times article, May 26, 1974
- PEPITONE IS GRATEFUL TO REJOIN YANKEES - New York Times article, June 6, 1982
- 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 Hired by Yanks - New York Times article, July 15, 1988
- Pepitone Is Released - New York Times article, September 15, 1988
- SPORTS PEOPLE: BASEBALL; Pepitone in Scuffle at Hotel Lounge - New York Times article, January 10, 1992
- SPORTS PEOPLE: BASEBALL; Pepitone Is Arrested - New York Times article, October 26, 1995
- Joe Pepitone In Auto Plea - Newsday article, February 23, 1996
- Career statistics and player information from Baseball-Reference
- Joe Pepitone's entry in BaseballLibrary.com
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