Joe Pepitone, Yankee All-Star shortstop, has died at age 82

NEW YORK (AP) – Joe Pepitone, an All-Star and Gold Glove first baseman for the 1960s New York Yank ees…

NEW YORK (AP) — Joe Pepitone, an All-Star and Gold Glove first baseman for the 1960s New York Yankees who gained notoriety for his flamboyant personality, hairdos and penchant for nightlife, has died at age 82 .

Pepitone was living with his daughter Kara Pepitone at her home in Kansas City, Mo., and was found dead Monday morning, according to BJ Pepitone, the former player’s son. The cause of death has not yet been determined, but BJ Pepitone said a heart attack is suspected.

The Yankees said in a statement that Pepitone’s “playful and charismatic personality and contributions on the field made him a favorite of generations of Yankees fans even after he pitched for the team in the 1960s.”

Born in Brooklyn, Pepitone attended Manual High School, signed with the Yankees in 1958 and made his major league debut in 1962. He helped the Yankees win their second straight World Series title, a team led by Mickey Mantle, Roger Morris and Alston Howard.

Pepitone drew attention for his behavior off the field. At a time when most players were staid and conformist, Pepitone was believed to be the first to bring a hair dryer to the clubhouse, an artifact that was later donated to the Baseball Reliquary and displayed at the Burbank Central Library in California during the 2004 exhibition: “The Times They Were A-Changin’: Baseball in the Age of Aquarius.”

He posed nude for the January 1975 issue of Foxylady magazine.

“Of course things were a little different back then,” Pepitone told Rolling Stone in 2015. – When I brought a hairdryer to the club, they thought I was a hairdresser or something; they didn’t know what the hell was going on, you know? I walked in wearing a black Nehru jacket, beaded, with slicked back hair; it was funny. I think about it now and laugh.”

Jim Bouton, in his groundbreaking 1970 book The Fourth Ball , which revealed the inner workings of baseball teams, recounted how “Pepitone started wearing hairpieces when his hair began to thin on top. … He carries various equipment with him in a small Blue Pan Am bag.’

Pepitone’s 1975 autobiography, Joe You Could Make Us Proud, details a night out with Frank Sinatra, smoking pot with Mantle and Whitey Ford, and Pepitone’s incarceration at Rikers Island.

Yankees owner George Steinbrenner brought Pepitone back as a minor league hitting instructor in 1980 and promoted him to the major league team two years later. Pepitone said he would even cut his wigs to comply with the Yankees’ grooming policy.

“This,” he told The New York Times, holding one wig, “is my player. It is gray in color. The longer one is my way out.”

Pepitone was imprisoned at Rikers Island for about four months in 1988 after two drug convictions, then was rehired by the Yankees to work with the minor leaguers. He was arrested in 1992 in a Catskills resort for a fight that began with a man calling him a “washed up nobody” and pleaded guilty in 1995 to driving under the influence.

He joined the Yankees at an important time in the team’s history. After winning in 1962, New York went on to capture American League pennants the next two years only to lose the series, and Pepitone was an All-Star three years in a row beginning in 1963.

He remained with the Yankees through their decline and was traded to Houston after the 1969 season for Kurt Blefar.

Pepitone went on to play for the Chicago Cubs from 1970-73 and finished his career with Atlanta and the Yakult Atoms of the Japan Central League in 1973. He hit .258 with 219 homers and 721 RBIs.

BJ Pepitone and Cara are children from Pepitone’s third marriage to Stephanie, who died in 2021. BJ Pepitone said the family has not yet decided on funeral plans.


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