Joe Pepitone

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Joe Pepitone
Joe Pepitone 2009.jpg
Pepitone at the 2009 Yankees' Old-Timers' Day
First baseman / Center fielder
Born: (1940-10-09) October 9, 1940 (age 73)
Brooklyn, New York
Batted: LeftThrew: 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 runs219
Runs batted in721
Teams
Career highlights and awards
 
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Joe Pepitone
Joe Pepitone 2009.jpg
Pepitone at the 2009 Yankees' Old-Timers' Day
First baseman / Center fielder
Born: (1940-10-09) October 9, 1940 (age 73)
Brooklyn, New York
Batted: LeftThrew: 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 runs219
Runs batted in721
Teams
Career highlights and awards

Joseph Anthony Pepitone (born October 9, 1940 in Brooklyn, New York) is a former Major League Baseball first baseman and outfielder who played the bulk of his career for the New York Yankees. He also played several seasons with the Chicago Cubs and had short stints with the Houston Astros and Atlanta Braves. During his time with the Yankees, Pepitone was thrice-named to play in the All-Star Game and also won three Golden Glove awards. His fame was sufficient for him to become something of a cultural icon.

Baseball career[edit]

Yankees[edit]

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 ($204,354 today) signing bonus.

Yankee management believed he could handle the first base job and traded Skowron to the Dodgers before the 1963 season. Pepitone responded, 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.

Astros, Cubs, and Braves[edit]

After the 1969 season, despite having won his third Gold Glove Award, Pepitone was traded to the Astros for Curt Blefary. However, he played only about half the 1970 season before being traded to the Cubs.

In Chicago, Pepitone replaced Ernie Banks at first base. He stayed with the Cubs through the 1971 and 1972 seasons, and was traded to the Atlanta Braves in May, 1973. In Atlanta, Pepitone only played three games, which marked the end of his major-league career in the United States.

Japan[edit]

In June 1973, Pepitone accepted an offer of $70,000 ($371,882 today) 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".[citation needed]

Life after baseball[edit]

Memoirs[edit]

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 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.[1]

Other work[edit]

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.[2]

In the late 1990s, Pepitone was given a job in the Yankees' front office. He currently spends his time signing autographs and baseball memorabilia at autograph shows, and working in a public relations capacity for the Yankees.

Criminal history[edit]

Personal life[edit]

Three times divorced, Pepitone currently resides in Massapequa, New York.

Pop culture references[edit]

Larry David productions[edit]

Pepitone has been mentioned in at least five episodes of shows written by or produced by Larry David.

Other TV references[edit]

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?!".

In the 1994 Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode "Zombie Nightmare", Mike Nelson refers to Joe Pepitone.

Pepitone is mentioned in the first season of The Sopranos episode entitled "Down Neck". Tony is having a flashback to his childhood during a therapy session with Dr. Melfi when he recalls walking out of his house when he was around 8 or 9 years old and his Uncle Junior shouts from his car "Anthony, you watch the game last night?", Tony replies "No, my mom made me go to bed", and then Uncle Junior says "Joey Pepitone, three RBIs!".

Pepitone is mentioned in the show Rescue Me in the episode titled "Jeter". In it, Tommy Gavin is upset at Lou for betraying his trust. He states that Lou is not Derek Jeter, after previously comparing him to the baseball star, and then he goes on to say that he's not even Joe "Goddamn" Pepitone.

Joe Pepitone was mentioned in the special episode of the West Wing made after 9/11, where the character Josh Lyman describes a baseball cap that his dad got Joe Pepitone to sign and he wore it to school every day during the 7th Grade.

Literature[edit]

In 2010, the novella Soul of a Yankee: The Iron Horse, The Babe and the Battle for Joe Pepitone, written by Pepitone's nephews William A. & Joseph V. Pepitone, was released. In it, the ghost of Lou Gehrig takes Joe through his life to show him the error of his ways, while the ghost of Babe Ruth tries to tempt Joe back into the wild life.

Pepitone features prominently in two Gary D. Schmidt novels: both The Wednesday Wars and Okay for Now.

Accolades[edit]

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.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Where Have Baseball's Characters Gone?- Article at NBC Sports
  2. ^ New York Times Article - June 6, 1982
  3. ^ New York Times Article - March 20, 1985
  4. ^ New York Times Article - July 15, 1988
  5. ^ New York Times Article - January 10, 1992
  6. ^ "You Can Call Me Joe Pepitone". Long Beach (CA) Press-Telegram. October 26, 1995. 
  7. ^ Karen Freifeld (February 23, 1996). "Joe Pepitone In Auto Plea". Newsday (Melville, NY). 

Books[edit]

Newspapers[edit]

External links[edit]