Joe Pepitone, Rowdy Star When the Yankees Faded, Dies at 82

He had All-Star years, won three Gold Gloves, hit with power and was a fan favorite, but as the team’s fortunes dimmed, his renegade lifestyle had its costs.

THE NEW YORK TIMES – Joe Pepitone, who won three Gold Gloves at first base and played in two World Series for the Yankees but who may be best remembered for his hair and his high jinks, has died at his home in Kansas City, Mo. He was 82.

His son Bill confirmed the death. He said his sister, Cara Pepitone, who had lived with their father, had found him dead on Monday morning. The cause was unknown, he said, but it appeared to have been a sudden event, like a heart attack. The Yankees also announced his death in a statement.

Pepitone was a fan favorite in New York. They called him Pepi, a local boy who came to the Yankees in 1962 with a sweet, compact, left-handed swing, a slick glove and the personality of an irrepressible joy rider from da naybahood.

His renegade nature would eventually cost him. He earned a reputation for wildness and unreliability, and in the 1980s, long after his career had ended, he went to prison on a drug charge. But at the start it was big fun.

A cutup in the locker room, a jabberer with the fans, Pepitone wore his hair pouffy and long; he was famously the first Yankee to bring a hair dryer into the clubhouse and supplemented his coiffure with toupees.

A poor man’s Joe Namath 

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And he led the life of a late-night social prowler, spreading money around, chasing women and hitting notorious glam-and-trouble spots like the Copacabana. Before the arrival in New York of Joe Namath, he was, well, a poor man’s Joe Namath.

Like Namath, the brash Jets quarterback christened Broadway Joe who in 1969 promised New York its first Super Bowl winner and then made it happen, Pepitone could play. A slender kid with surprising power, he also had the arm, speed and judgment to play more than 400 games in center field during his 12-year career.

In his second season, he displaced the Yankees’ longtime first baseman Bill Skowron, and with Mickey Mantle and Yogi Berra aging and Roger Maris’s best years behind him, Pepitone seemed poised to become the focus of the next-generation lineup.

From 1963 to 1965, he made three consecutive All-Star teams, belting 27 home runs in 1963, 28 in 1964, 18 in 1965 and a career-high 31 in 1966 … READ MORE [subscription may be required]

Joe Pepitone

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Joe Pepitone and two other men were arrested in Brooklyn on March 18, 1985, after being stopped by the police for running a red light. The car contained nine ounces of cocaine, 344 quaaludes, a free-basing kit, a pistol, and about $6,300 in cash.

Pepitone denied knowing there were drugs and guns in the vehicle. He spent four months at Rikers Island jail in 1988 for two misdemeanor drug convictions.


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