HomeUS News updateJoe Pepitone, Yankees All-Star 'favorite of generations,' dies at 82

Joe Pepitone, Yankees All-Star ‘favorite of generations,’ dies at 82

NEW YORK — Joe Pepitone, an All-Star and Gold Glove first baseman for the 1960s New York Yankees who gained fame for his flamboyant personality, hairpieces and penchant for nightlife, has died. He was 82 years old.

According to former player BJ Pepitone’s son, Pepitone was living with his daughter, Kara Pepitone, at their home in Kansas City, Missouri, and was found dead Monday morning. The cause of death was not immediately clear, but BJ Pepitone said a heart attack was suspected.

The Yankees said in a statement that Pepitone’s “playful and charismatic personality and on-field contributions made him a favorite of generations of Yankees fans even beyond his years with the team in the 1960s.”

Born in Brooklyn, Pepitone went to Manual Training High School, signed with the Yankees in 1958, and made his big league debut in 1962. He helped the Yankees to their second straight World Series title that year, a team led by Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris, and Alston Howard.

Pepitone attracted attention for his off-the-field conduct. At a time when most players were stoic and conformist, Pepitone was credited with being the first to bring a hair dryer into the clubhouse, an artifact later donated to Baseball Requiem and displayed at the Burbank Central Library in California during a 2004 exhibit. Gaya: “The Times They Were A-Changin’: Baseball in the Age of Aquarius.”

She posed nude for the January 1975 issue of Foxlady magazine.

Pepitone told Rolling Stone in 2015, “Things were a little different, for sure.” They didn’t know what was going on, you know? I used to come in wearing a black Nehru jacket, a string of pearls, my hair slicked back; It was funny. I think about it now, and I laugh.

Jim Bouton, in his 1970 book “Ball Four”, which revealed the inner workings of baseball teams, described how “Pepiton started wearing hairpieces when his hair started thinning on top. … He was a little Se Blue Pan Am carries all kinds of equipment in the bag.”

Pepitone’s 1975 autobiography, “Joe, You Can Made Us Proud,” detailed nightlife with Frank Sinatra, marijuana smoking with Mantle and Whitey Ford, and Pepitone’s jailing at Rikers Island.

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

“This one,” he told the New York Times, holding a wig, “is my gamer. It’s got gray in it. It’s as long as my going-out.”

Pepitone was jailed in Rikers Island for nearly four months in 1988 after serving a sentence for two misdemeanors, then was re-hired by the Yankees to work with the minor leaguers. He was arrested in 1992 for an altercation at a Catskills resort that began when a man called him a “washed up nobody” and pleaded guilty in 1995 to drunk driving.

He joined the Yankees at a high point in team history. After winning the 1962 title, New York took the American League pennants only to lose in the Series the next two years, and Pepitone became an All-Star three years in a row from 1963.

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

Pepitone played for the Chicago Cubs from 1970–73 and finished his career in 1973 with Atlanta and the Yakult Atoms of Japan’s Central League. He hit .258 with 219 homers and 721 RBIs.

BJ Pepitone and Cara are Stephanie’s children from Pepitone’s third marriage, who died in 2021. Pepitone is also survived by son Joseph Jr. and daughters Eileen and Lisa from previous marriages. BJ Pepitone said the family has not yet decided on funeral plans.



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