Anthony Varvaro, a former Major League Baseball pitcher who retired in 2016 to become a New York City-area police officer, was killed in a car accident on his way to work at the 9/11 memorial service in Manhattan on Sunday morning killed police officers and his former teams.
Varvaro, 37, was an officer with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. He played baseball at St. John’s University in New York City before serving in the majors as a backup pitcher with the Seattle Mariners, Atlanta Braves and Boston Red Sox from 2010-2015.
“We are deeply saddened by the death 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 in New Jersey on Sunday morning. Messages seeking details of the crash were left with the New Jersey State Police.
St. John’s head baseball coach Mike Hampton said he was “wordless” about Varvaro’s death.
“Not only was he everything you could want in a ball player, he was everything you could want in a person,” said Hampton, who served as an assistant coach during all of Varvaro’s three seasons at St. John’s was. “My heart goes out to his family, friends, teammates and fellow officers.”
Port Authority officials said in a statement that Varvaro “represents the very best of this agency and will be remembered for his bravery and dedication to service.”
“On this solemn occasion as the Port Authority mourns the loss of 84 personnel in the attacks on the World Trade Center – including 37 members of the Port Authority Police Department – our grief is only deepened today with the death of Officer Varvaro,” it said in the statement by Port Authority Chairman Kevin O’Toole and Executive Director Rick Cotton.
Raised on Staten Island in New York City, Varvaro was drafted in the 12th round by Seattle in 2005. He played for the Mariners in 2010 and for Atlanta from 2011 to 2014.
Varvaro was traded to the Red Sox in late 2014 and played 11 innings for Boston early in the 2015 season. In May 2015, the Chicago Cubs challenged him from the Boston waivers, but returned him to the Red Sox after tests showed he had an elbow injury in his right flexor which led to season-ending surgery.
During his major league career, he batted 183 innings in 166 games, averaging a 3.23 earned run average, 150 strikeouts and one save.
In 2016, he appeared in 18 games for Boston’s top minor league partner 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 while he was serving on the majors he was inquiring about police jobs with the Port Authority.
“I felt like I’d had a pretty successful career in baseball, I’d played a number of seasons and I was fine about taking the next step in my life,” he told the newspaper.
Port Authority officials said Varvaro became a police officer in December 2016 and served on patrol for nearly five years before transferring to the Port Authority Police Academy to become an instructor.