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Joe Pepitone
First baseman / Center fielder
Born: October 9, 1940 (1940-10-09) (age 69)
Brooklyn, New York
Batted: Left Threw: Left 
MLB debut
April 10, 1962 for the New York Yankees
Last MLB appearance
May 25, 1973 for the Atlanta Braves
Career statistics
Batting average     .258
Home runs     219
Runs batted in     721
Teams
Career highlights and awards

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).

Contents

Baseball career

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 ($184,238 in current dollar terms) 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 1973, Pepitone accepted an offer of $70,000 ($335,642 in current dollar terms) 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".

Pepitone was a member of the 1963, 1964 and 1965 American League All Star Team. He won the Gold Glove award for first basemen in 1965, 1966 and 1969.

Publishes memoir, life after baseball

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, Pepitone published his own tell-all baseball memoir, titled Joe, You Coulda Made Us Proud. The book received substantial attention for its many revelations.

In 1975 he posed nude for Foxy Lady magazine, featuring full frontal nudity.[1] 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 June 1982, Pepitone was hired as a batting coach with the Yankees, but was replaced by Lou Piniella later in the season.

In the late 1990s, Pepitone was given a job in the Yankees' front office.

Recently divorced from his third wife, Pepitone currently resides in Long Island, New York. On October 9, 2009, he celebrated his 69th birthday. He currently spends his time signing autographs and baseball memorabilia at autograph shows, and working within a Public Relations capacity for the New York Yankees. Contrary to published reports, he is not the owner and is not affiliated with a Downers Grove, Illinois real estate agency.

Criminal activity 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 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.."[2] Pepitone pled guilty. When asked if he was staying away from alcohol, Pepitone responded: "I don't drink that much."[3]

Television references

Joe Pepitone was first mentioned in the 1987 Golden Girls episode titled Whose Face is this, Anyway. In this episode, Blanche tells Dorothy that she cannot possibly begin to comprehend the trauma a gorgeous woman goes through when she realizes her beauty is about to fade. Dorothy yells out, "And who do you see when you look at me Blanche, Joe Pepitone?!".

Joe Pepitone was mentioned in the 1993 Seinfeld episode titled The Visa. In the episode, Cosmo Kramer reluctantly describes his experience at a recent baseball fantasy camp, wherein Pepitone was crowding home plate while Kramer was pitching, leading to Kramer's beanball that resulted in a subsequent camp-ending brawl, in which Kramer punched Mickey Mantle.

Pepitone was mentioned in the 1994 Seinfeld episode titled The Mom and Pop Store. In the episode, George Costanza buys John Voight's car, thinking it belonged to Jon Voight the actor. George tells Mr. Morgan, "Well, I think we need more special days at the stadium, you know? Like, uh...Joe Pepitone Day. Or, uh...Jon Voight Day."

Cosmo Kramer also refers to Joe Pepitone in the 1996 episode titled The Rye as the designer of New York City's Central Park, while driving a hansom cab through Central Park.

Pepitone is also mentioned in the sixth season of the HBO series Curb Your Enthusiasm episode titled "The Anonymous Donor", where Larry David's Pepitone jersey gets lost at the dry cleaners. Larry and Leon Black then go out trying to find who is wearing it.

Joe Pepitone is also mentioned in Season 1, episode 7, of The Sopranos, episode entitled "Down Neck". Tony is having a flashback to his childhood during a therapy session with Dr.Melfi and he recalls walking out of his house when he was around 8 or 9 years old and his Uncle June yelling "Anthony, you watch the game last night?", "no my mom made me go to bed" tony says and then Uncle June replies "Joey Pepitone, three RBIs"...

In the 1996 Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode "Zombie Nightmare", Mike Nelson refers to Joe Pepitone.

See also

References

  1. ^ Where Have Baseball's Characters Gone? article at NBC Sports]
  2. ^ "You Can Call Me Joe Pepitone". Long Beach (CA) Press-Telegram. October 26, 1995.  
  3. ^ Karen Freifeld (February 23, 1996). "Joe Pepitone In Auto Plea". Newsday (Melville, NY).  
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Books

  • 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)

Newspapers

External links


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