Anthony Varvaro, a former Major League Baseball pitcher who retired in 2016 to become a police officer in the New York City area, was killed in a car crash Sunday morning on his way to work at the Sept. 11 memorial ceremony in Manhattan, according to police officials and his former teams.
Varvaro, 37, was an officer for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. He played baseball at St. John's University in New York City before a career in the majors as a relief pitcher with the Seattle Mariners, Atlanta Braves, and Boston Red Sox from 2010 to 2015.
“We are deeply saddened on the passing of former Braves pitcher Anthony Varvaro,” the Braves said in a statement. “Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and colleagues.”
The crash happened Sunday morning in New Jersey. Messages seeking details about the crash were left with New Jersey state police.
St. John's head baseball coach Mike Hampton said he was “at a loss for words” over Varvaro's death.
“Not only was he everything you could want out of a ball player, 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.
Raised in Staten Island in New York City, Varvaro was drafted by Seattle in the 12th round in 2005. He played for the Mariners in 2010 and Atlanta from 2011 to 2014.
Varvaro was traded to the Red Sox in late 2014 and pitched 11 innings for Boston early in the 2015 season. In May 2015, the Chicago Cubs claimed him off waivers from Boston, but returned him to the Red Sox after testing showed he had a elbow injury in his right pitching arm, which resulted in season-ending surgery.
For his major league career, he pitched 183 innings in 166 games, compiling a 3.23 earned run average, 150 strikeouts and one save.
In 2016, he appeared in 18 games for Boston's top minor league affiliate before retiring in June and beginning his police training.
Varvaro, who studied criminal justice at St. John's and graduated in 2005, told the student newspaper, The Torch, in December 2016 that he inquired about police jobs at the Port Authority while pitching in the majors.
“I figured that I had a pretty successful career in baseball, I had played a number of seasons, and I was fine moving on to the next step of my life,” he told the newspaper.
Port Authority officials said Varvaro became a police officer in December 2016 and was assigned to patrol for nearly five years before transferring to the Port Authority Police Academy to become an instructor.