Joe Pepitone

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Joe Pepitone
Runs batted in
NPB statistics
Batting average.163
Home runs1
Runs batted in2
Career highlights and awards

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.

Early life

Pepitone was born in

Manual Training High School.[1]

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.[2]

Baseball career

New York Yankees

Pepitone in the 1960s

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.[1]

After playing four seasons in the

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.[1] In the 1964 World Series against the St. Louis Cardinals, he hit a grand slam in Game 6,[3] but the Yankees lost the series.[1]

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.[1] Pepitone began to feud with the Yankees in 1969, leaving the team without permission for two days in August.[4] He batted .242 with 27 home runs in the 1969 season.[1]

Later career

After the 1969 season, despite having won his third

waivers a week later.[7] In Chicago, Pepitone replaced Ernie Banks at first base. Pepitone retired in May 1972,[8] but returned to the Cubs after a few weeks away from the team.[9] The Cubs traded Pepitone to the Atlanta Braves for Andre Thornton, and cash considerations on May 19, 1973.[10] In Atlanta, he played only three games, after which he announced his intention to retire.[11]

Pepitone then announced his intention to continue his career in Japan.[12] 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.[13] In July, he returned to the United States.[14] While in Japan, he hit .163 with one home run and two RBIs in 14 games. 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".[15]

Life after baseball



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.[17]

Professional softball career

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.[18][19][20]

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.[21] That offer was rejected.[22] 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.[23][24] Pepitone was suspended for six games by NASL Commissioner Robert Brown for "conduct detrimental to professional softball"[25] and was out for the season in August with a thigh injury.[26] 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.[27]

MLB coaching

In October 1980, Pepitone was hired as a minor league hitting coach with the Yankees

Lou Pinella in August of that summer.[29] 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.[30] Pepitone received a 1999 World Series ring for his relationship with the Yankees. He subsequently sold that ring at auction.[31]

Personal life

Pepitone and two other men were arrested in Brooklyn on March 18, 1985, after being stopped by the police for running a red light.

free-basing kit, a pistol, and about $6,300 in cash.[33] Pepitone denied knowing there were drugs and guns in the vehicle.[34] He spent four months at Rikers Island jail in 1988 for two misdemeanor drug convictions.[32]

In January 1992, Pepitone was charged with misdemeanor assault in

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.[36] Pepitone pleaded guilty. When asked if he was staying away from alcohol, Pepitone responded, "I don't drink that much."[37]

Pepitone was married three times, all ending in divorce. He had five children.[1]

On March 13, 2023, Pepitone died at his home in Kansas City, Missouri, at the age of 82.[38]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h "Joe Pepitone – Society for American Baseball Research".
  2. ^ "The Class of 1946–2018 Twenty-seven school-shooting survivors bear their scars, and bear witness". October 28, 2018. Retrieved November 9, 2018.
  3. ^ "Mt. Vernon Register-News 15 Oct 1964, page Page 6".
  4. ^ "Daily News 15 Aug 1969, page 75". August 15, 1969. Retrieved March 14, 2023.
  5. ^ 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.
  6. ^ "Astros' Pepitone Threatens to Retire – New York Times article, July 22, 1970". The New York Times. July 22, 1970. Retrieved March 13, 2023.
  7. ^ "Cubs Acquire Pepitone on Waivers – New York Times article, July 30, 1970". The New York Times. July 30, 1970. Retrieved March 13, 2023.
  8. ^ "Pepitone Quits Baseball; 'No Longer Interested' – New York Times article, May 3, 1972". The New York Times. May 3, 1972. Retrieved March 13, 2023.
  9. ^ "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.
  10. ^ "Pepitone Is Traded By Cubs to the Braves – New York Times article, May 20, 1973".
  11. ^ "Pepitone Quits Again – New York Times article, May 27, 1973". The New York Times. May 27, 1973. Retrieved March 13, 2023.
  12. ^ "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.
  13. ^ "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.
  14. ^ "Pepitone Returns to U.S. – New York Times article, July 9, 1973". The New York Times. July 9, 1973. Retrieved March 13, 2023.
  15. ^ Markusen, Bruce. "Card Corner: 1973 Topps: Joe Pepitone," Hardball Times (May 31, 2013).
  16. ^ "Yankees remember Joe Pepitone, 'a favorite of generations' of fans". ABC7 New York. March 13, 2023.
  17. ^ "Homepage". August 23, 2015. Archived from the original on July 8, 2009. Retrieved September 18, 2009.
  18. ^ "Ludington Daily News – Google News Archive Search".
  19. ^ Feinstein, John (July 29, 1977). "Slow-Pitch Pros Fast Becoming Favorites" – via
  20. ^ Carter, Russell (May 26, 1977). "Pro Slo-Pitch Softball Debuts Sunday" – via
  21. ^ "Clipped From The Central New Jersey Home News". The Central New Jersey Home News. July 21, 1978. p. 13 – via
  22. ^ "Clipped From Detroit Free Press". Detroit Free Press. August 2, 1978. p. 52 – via
  23. ^ "Clipped From The Tampa Times". The Tampa Times. June 29, 1978. p. 27 – via
  24. ^ "Clipped From Chicago Tribune". Chicago Tribune. May 14, 1980. p. 57 – via
  25. ^ "Clipped From Chicago Tribune". Chicago Tribune. July 20, 1980. p. 50 – via
  26. ^ "Clipped From Chicago Tribune". Chicago Tribune. August 11, 1980. p. 56 – via
  27. ^ a b "Clipped From The Rock Island Argus". The Rock Island Argus. October 8, 1980. p. 28 – via
  28. ^ Gross, Jane (June 6, 1982). "PEPITONE IS GRATEFUL TO REJOIN YANKEES (Published 1982)". The New York Times.
  29. ^ "Lou Piniella – Society for American Baseball Research".
  30. ^ "Pepitone Hired by Yanks (Published 1988)". The New York Times. July 15, 1988.
  31. ^ "Lot Detail – 1999 Joe Pepitone NY Yankees World Championship Ring".
  32. ^ a b Buder, Leonard (October 23, 1986). "PEPITONE SENTENCED TO SIX MONTHS IN JAIL (Published 1986)". The New York Times.
  33. ^ Buder, Leonard (March 20, 1985). "PEPITONE ARRESTED ON DRUG CHARGES" – via
  34. ^ Buder, Leonard (March 21, 1985). "Pepitone's Lawyer Denies All Charges (Published 1985)". The New York Times.
  35. ^ "SPORTS PEOPLE: BASEBALL; Pepitone in Scuffle at Hotel Lounge". January 10, 1992 – via
  36. ^ "You Can Call Me Joe Pepitone". Long Beach (CA) Press-Telegram. October 26, 1995.
  37. ^ 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.
  38. ^ 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.




External links