Gold Gloves 3 Times Winner Joe Pepitone Dies at 82

Joe Pepitone, a baseball star renowned for clinching three Gold Gloves as a standout first baseman and his appearances in two World Series with the Yankees, but perhaps most fondly recalled for his distinctive hair and spirited escapades, has passed away at his residence in Kansas City, Missouri. He was 82 years old.

Joe Pepitone Dies News

His passing was verified by his son Bill, who shared that his sister, Cara Pepitone, a co-resident with their father, made the somber discovery on a Monday morning. While the precise cause remains veiled in uncertainty, it bore the hallmarks of an abrupt occurrence, suggestive of a heart attack.

Joe Pepitone held a special place in the hearts of New Yorkers, affectionately known as Pepi. A homegrown talent, he made his debut with the Yankees in 1962, showcasing a delightful, compact, left-handed swing, along with a slick glove and a vibrant personality that radiated the spirited essence of an unstoppable neighborhood adventurer.

Joe Pepitone Career Life

However, his free-spirited demeanor eventually came at a cost. He cultivated a reputation for his daring and unpredictable nature. In a turn of events, during the 1980s, long after his baseball career had drawn to a close, he found himself facing a prison sentence due to a drug-related charge. Yet, during his early days, it was all about pure, unadulterated enjoyment.

A true character in the locker room, Joe Pepitone was known for his playful antics and lively interactions with fans. His distinctive style extended to his hair, which he proudly wore pouffy and long. Notably, he earned fame as the trailblazing Yankee who introduced a hair dryer to the clubhouse and augmented his unique hairstyle with toupees. Beyond the ballpark, he embraced the nightlife, becoming a familiar face on the late-night scene, generously splurging money, pursuing romantic interests, and making appearances at the illustrious yet sometimes infamous establishments like the Copacabana. Prior to Joe Namath’s iconic presence in New York, Joe Pepitone held a similar aura as a charismatic figure – often seen as a budget-friendly version of the legendary quarterback.

He even had a stint playing for a semiprofessional team backed by Nathan’s Famous hot dogs. His performances were so exceptional that professional scouts couldn’t resist attending his matches to witness his prowess on the field.

In the spring of 1958, a pivotal moment nearly took an unfortunate turn. As a high school senior, Pepitone found himself in a harrowing situation. While at his locker in Manual Training High School, a classmate’s playful handling of a loaded gun resulted in an accidental shot that struck him just below the ribcage, as recounted in his memoir. The gravity of the wound was evident as a priest arrived to administer last rites while Joe awaited the arrival of the ambulance.

Joe Pepitone Surgery

Miraculously, luck was on his side – the bullet miraculously avoided his vital organs. Following a surgery that required a 12-day hospital stay, he was able to return home. Tragedy struck again a few days later when his father, who had already suffered a heart attack, tragically passed away at the young age of 39. Despite the hardships, August brought a glimmer of hope as the Yankees secured Pepitone with a $25,000 contract. Yet, the shooting incident likely hindered him from receiving a more substantial signing bonus.

In 1973, Joe Pepitone briefly played in Japan, an experience that led him to pen a candid article for The New York Times. In his piece, he lamented the challenges he faced due to language barriers; the lack of English speakers left him feeling isolated. He humorously grumbled about his apartment’s unusually low door, humorously recalling that it was just 4 feet 5 inches high.

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