Joe Pepitone, Yankees All-Star and Gold Glover in the 1960s, dies at 82

Three-time All-Star and longtime major league player Joe Pepitone has died, the New York Yankees announced Monday. He was 82. A cause of death was not given.

“The Yankees are deeply saddened by the death of former Yankee Joe Pepitone, whose playful and charismatic personality and on-field accomplishments have made him a favorite of generations of Yankees fans, even beyond his years with the team in the 1960’s ‘ the Yankees said in a statement.

“A native of New York, he embraced all that it means to be a Yankee both during his playing career – which has included three All-Star appearances and three Gold Gloves – and in the decades that have followed. You always knew when Joe walked into a room — his immense pride in being a Yankee was always there. He will be missed by our entire organization and we send our deepest condolences to his family, friends and everyone who knew him.”

Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, Pepitone signed with the Yankees in 1958 as an amateur free agent. .448 with 27 home runs by the age of 22. Pepitone was an All-Star that season and helped the Yankees to the American League pennant.

During that 1963 World Series, Pepitone made a costly mistake in Game 4 when he lost the ball on a throw by third baseman Clete Boyer in front of the crowd at Dodger Stadium. The runner was able to advance to third base due to Pepitone’s error and later scored what would prove to be a World Series winning run.

From 1963 to 1969, Pepitone hit .252/.294/.423 with the Yankees and averaged 26 home runs per 162 games played. He competed in three All-Star Games with New York (1963-65), received MVP votes in two seasons (1963 and 1966), and won three Gold Gloves (1965-66, 1969). The Yankees went to the 1963 and 1964 World Series with Pepitone, though he never won a championship with the club.

The Yankees traded Pepitone to the Houston Astros in December 1969, and he finished his career with Houston (1970), the Chicago Cubs (1970-73), and Atlanta Braves (1973). He left the Braves in June 1973 and finished that season with the Yakult Atoms in Japan. Pepitone retired with 219 home runs, 1,315 hits and a .258/.301/.432 batting line in 1,297 games.

After his major league career, Pepitone played in a professional softball league and later served as a minor league coach with the Yankees from 1981-82. He briefly served as the team’s MLB hitting coach in 1982 and served in the front office. Pepitone had legal troubles later in life, including serving four months in prison for two drug offense convictions in 1988.

Pepitone was one of the game’s greatest characters and featured prominently in Jim Bouton’s book ball four. He wrote his own memoirs Joe, you could have made us proudin 1975, which detailed his upbringing and life outside of baseball.

Leave a Comment