I read “Ball Four” before I read “Joe You Coulda Made Us Proud”, and good too because it was obvious the former paved the way for the later. Jim Bouton opened up the baseball world to me. I understood what went on in the dugouts and hotels and heads of baseball players; it was fun. What a fun and revealing book I still remember most of it to this day — I read the book around 1976.
With Jim Bouton having paved the way, Joe Pepitone revealed what went on in his hotel rooms and head. It was an X-rated version of Bouton’s book. Joe was amongst other things, a sex addict. To the point where he was bringing homeless bag ladies into his hotel room at 3 in the morning. And worse. Yes it can get worse. Sex with your stroke-ridden aunt while she lay on her hospital bed bad. At the end, he hated baseball so much, a ball rolled his way hit by kids in a schoolyard, and he didn’t want to pick it up and throw it back to them.
It was a hard-core book I remember those bits to this day. I read the book in 1977 or so.
In the late seventies, several years later, I remember reading a newspaper story that Joe Pepitone was stopped by the cops who found explosives in his trunk. Maybe it was fireworks or firearms, not really sure. He was linked to the mob.
This past summer at Yankee Stadium I happened into a line to get an autograph from several old-time Yankees. The first guy in the lineup was bigger than life — big, burly, gregarious, funny, really at home with all the fans there — cracking jokes. Nobody on line next to me knew who he was. Could it be.. Joe Pepitone? Nah..
I finally got up to him on the line, and I shook his hand. Big bear hands. I asked him.. “who ARE you?”.
“WHO AM I????” he bellowed. “You don’t know me?.. I’m Joe Pepitone!”
And he cracked a bunch of jokes to all around about no one knowing who Joe Pepitone is anymore. What a great guy. No ego. I said, “I thought it was you but wasn’t sure — I read your book!”. He kind of humphed in a kind of ‘oh that’ reaction.
We took a picture together. And he continued his larger-than-life gregariousness.