According to police officials and his former teammates, Anthony Varvaro, a former pitcher in the MLB who retired in 2016 to become a police officer in the New York City area, was killed in a car accident on his way to work at the September 11 memorial ceremony in Manhattan on Sunday morning.
The Port Authority of New York employed Varvaro, who was 37 years old at the time, as an officer. After graduating from St. John’s University, he then spent the next six years in the big leagues as a relief pitcher for the Atlanta Braves and the Boston Red Sox. The Atlanta Braves have released a statement in which they express their “profound sadness” on the death of former Braves pitcher Anthony Varvaro. “Please know that you are in our thoughts and prayers,” the other employees said.
We are deeply saddened on the passing of former Braves pitcher Anthony Varvaro. Anthony, 37, played parts of six seasons in the majors, including four with Atlanta.
He voluntarily retired from MLB in 2016 to become a Port Authority police officer. pic.twitter.com/YSoisa79o4
— Atlanta Braves (@Braves) September 11, 2022
Police reports concluded the collision took place early on a Sunday in the state of New Jersey. Following Varvaro’s passing, the St. John’s University baseball coach, Mike Hampton, said that he was “at a loss for words.” ESPN had more details to add to the tragic story:
“Not only was he everything you could want out of a ballplayer, he was everything you could want in a person,” said Hampton, who was an assistant coach at St. John’s during all three of Varvaro’s seasons there. “My heart goes out to his family, friends, teammates and fellow officers.”
Port Authority officials said in a statement that Varvaro “represented the very best of this agency, and will be remembered for his courage and commitment to service.”
“On this solemn occasion as the Port Authority mourns the loss of 84 employees in the attacks on the World Trade Center — including 37 members of the Port Authority Police Department — our grief only deepens today with the passing of Officer Varvaro,” said the statement by Port Authority chairman Kevin O’Toole and executive director Rick Cotton.
Varvaro was born and raised in Staten Island. In 2005, the Seattle Mariners selected him in the 12th round of the draft. In 2010, he was a member of the Mariners, and from 2011 through 2014, he was with the Braves.
After being acquired by the Red Sox in a late-season trade in 2014, Varvaro started the 2015 campaign for Boston by pitching 11 innings. In May of 2015, the Chicago Cubs claimed him off waivers from the Boston Red Sox. However, they sent him back to Boston when tests revealed that he had an elbow problem in the arm he used for pitching, which required him to have season-ending surgery.
Varvaro finished his career in the big leagues with a 3.23 earned run average coupled with 150 strikeouts, and one save.
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In 2016 he attempted a comeback and played for Boston’s top minor league club and made 18 appearances for them before retiring in June and beginning his training to become a police officer.
We are deeply saddened by the passing of former Red Sox pitcher Anthony Varvaro.
We send our sincerest condolences to the Varvaro family. ❤️ pic.twitter.com/fQTgpswhQP
— Red Sox (@RedSox) September 11, 2022
When pitching in the big leagues, Varvaro told the student newspaper The Torch in December 2016 that he had enquired about police employment at the Port Authority while he was a student at St. John’s University, where he had majored in criminal justice and graduated in 2005.
The old Sandlot quote goes “Heroes get remembered, but legends never die” Vavrvaro was a legend indeed.