Port Authority cop, former MLB pitcher, dies in back-to-back crash en route to 9/11 event

Port Authority cop, former MLB pitcher, dies in back-to-back crash en route to 9/11 event

JERSEY CITY, NJ (WABC) — Ex-Major League Baseball pitcher, who later became a Port Authority police officer, was killed in a back-to-back crash near the Holland Tunnel on his way to the 9/11 ceremony at the World Trade Center sunday.

Tributes are pouring in for Anthony Varvaro, 37, who grew up in Westerleigh on Staten Island and played six seasons of professional baseball after a stellar college career in St. John’s.

After stints with the Seattle Mariners, Atlanta Braves and Boston Red Sox, Varvaro retired in 2016 and joined the Port Authority Police Department.

The crash happened around 4:25 a.m. on the New Jersey Turnpike Hudson Bay Extension East at Mile 6.7 in Jersey City, where police said Henry Plazas, 30, of Bridgewater, was traveling toward the west in the eastbound lanes when he hit Varvano’s Nissan Maxima on the lead.

Both drivers were killed.

St. John’s baseball head coach Mike Hampton said he was “at a loss for words” about Varvaro’s death.

“Not only was he everything you could want in a baseball player, he was everything you could want in a person,” said Hampton, who served as an assistant coach at St. John’s for all three seasons of Varvaro there. “My heart goes out to his family, friends, teammates and fellow officers.”

Port Authority officials said in a statement that Varvaro “represented the best of this agency, and his courage and commitment to service will be remembered.”

“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 grows worse today with the death of Officer Varvaro,” the statement said. by Port Authority Chairman Kevin O’Toole and Executive Director Rick Cotton.

Varvaro was drafted by Seattle in the 12th round in 2005, and he played for the Mariners in 2010 and the Braves from 2011 to 2014.

“We are deeply saddened by the passing of former Braves pitcher Anthony Varvaro,” the Braves said in a statement. “Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and colleagues.”

He was traded to the Red Sox in late 2014 and pitched 11 innings for Boston at the start of the 2015 season. In May 2015, the Chicago Cubs claimed him from Boston waivers, but returned him to the Red Sox after tests showed he had an elbow injury in his right arm, which required season-ending surgery.

For his major league career, he pitched 183 innings in 166 games, compiling a 3.23 ERA, 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 police training.

Varvaro, who studied criminal justice at St. John’s and graduated in 2005, told student newspaper The Torch in December 2016 that he learned about policing jobs at the Port Authority while attending to the majors.

“I thought I had a pretty successful career in baseball,” he told the newspaper. “I had played a number of seasons and was going to be well on the next stage of my life.”

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.

He also worked with the Little Leaguers.

“We are saddened to announce the passing of our President, friend, coach, husband and father Anthony Varvaro,” Sailor’s Snug Harbor Little League said. “The community of Snug Harbor LL is deeply saddened by the loss of Anthony. Not only was Anthony the President, but he was a wonderful person. Please keep his family in your thoughts and prayers.”

He leaves behind a wife and four children.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report)

RELATED | 9/11 21 Years Later: Reflections, Photos and Stories

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