Joe Pignatano

Joe Pignatano
Pignatano as the Mets' bullpen coach, 1969.
Born: (1929-08-04) August 4, 1929
Brooklyn, New York
Batted: Right Threw: Right
MLB debut
April 28, 1957, for the Brooklyn Dodgers
Last MLB appearance
September 30, 1962, for the New York Mets
MLB statistics
Batting average .234
Home runs 16
Runs scored 81
Career highlights and awards

Joseph Benjamin Pignatano (born August 4, 1929) is a retired Italian-American professional baseball player and coach. The former catcher appeared in 307 games in the Major Leagues during all or part of six seasons (1957–62) for the Brooklyn and Los Angeles Dodgers (1957–60), Kansas City Athletics (1961), San Francisco Giants (1962) and New York Mets (1962). He threw and batted right-handed, stood 5 feet 10 inches (1.78 m) tall and weighed 180 pounds (82 kg). He is a Brooklyn native and lifelong resident of Brooklyn and Staten Island in New York City. He signed with his hometown Dodgers in 1948, and spent almost seven full seasons (interrupted by two years of military service) in their farm system before three brief auditions with the 1957 big-league team.

Playing career

On Tuesday, September 24, 1957, Pignatano was behind the plate during the final five innings of the Brooklyn Dodgers' last home game, played at Ebbets Field against the Pittsburgh Pirates. He relieved starting catcher (and future Baseball Hall of Famer) Roy Campanella in the top of the fifth inning with the Dodgers leading 2–0 and helped guide pitcher Danny McDevitt to a complete game shutout victory.[1] The Dodgers played their final three games in 1957 on the road against the Philadelphia Phillies, then moved to Los Angeles during the off-season.

In January 1958, Campanella was tragically paralyzed in a car accident, and John Roseboro succeeded him as the Dodgers' starting catcher. Pignatano was Roseboro's backup in both 1958–59 and the third-string Dodger receiver in 1960. He hit a career-high nine home runs in 1958 and played a key role in the Dodgers' late-season 1959 pennant drive, which ended in a flat-footed tie between the Dodgers and Milwaukee Braves. In the flag-clinching Game 2 of the National League playoff series, Pignatano entered the contest as a pinch runner for Norm Larker in the ninth inning, then took over as catcher in the tenth, replacing Roseboro. In the 12th, with two out and Gil Hodges on base, Pignatano singled off Bob Rush to keep the inning alive and send Hodges to second. The next hitter, Carl Furillo, delivered the game- and pennant-winning run on an infield hit and an error by Braves' shortstop Félix Mantilla.[2] Pignatano then appeared in one inning as a defensive replacement (in Game 5) of the 1959 World Series[3] and earned a world championship ring when the Dodgers prevailed over the Chicago White Sox in six games.

Pignatano was a semi-regular for the 1961 Athletics, splitting the catching duties with Haywood Sullivan, but offensive struggles limited his MLB playing time. He hit above .240 only once (with the 1961 A's) and batted .234 lifetime with 161 hits, 25 doubles, four triples, 16 home runs and 62 runs batted in. His career OPS was .683. He is the only major league player to end his career by hitting into a triple play, which he did while playing for the Mets in the eighth inning on September 30, 1962.[4][5][6][7]

As a coach

After his 15-year professional playing career ended in 1964, Pignatano was a coach for the Washington Senators (1965–67), New York Mets (1968–81) and Atlanta Braves (1982–84), working under Hodges from 1965–71 and earning a second World Series ring with the 1969 "Miracle Mets." During his years as the Mets' bullpen coach, Pignatano cultivated a vegetable garden in the bullpen.[8] He is also related to two other former Met players, pitchers Pete Falcone and John Franco, a cousin.


  1. Retrosheet: 1957-9-24 box score
  2. Retrosheet: 1959-9-29 box score
  3. Retrosheet: 1959-10-6 box score
  4. Effrat, Louis (October 1, 1962). "The Mets' Long Season Ends With Their 120th Defeat, 5 to 1". New York Times. p. 43. Retrieved 30 July 2017.
  5. Nash, Bruce (1989). Baseball Hall of Shame. Allan Zullo. Simon and Schuster. p. 184. ISBN 978-0-671-68766-3.
  6. Retrosheet: 1962-9-30 box score
  7. "Triple Play Tidbits". Baseball Round Table. August 22, 2012. Retrieved July 30, 2017.
  8. Shamsky, Art; Zeman, Barry; Costas, Bob; Namath, Joe; Seaver, Tom; Bradley, Bill (2006). The Magnificent Seasons. Macmillan. p. 118. ISBN 0-312-33253-X. Retrieved 2011-10-31.
Preceded by
Danny O'Connell
Washington Senators first base coach
Succeeded by
Nellie Fox
Preceded by
Sheriff Robinson
New York Mets bullpen coach
Succeeded by
Preceded by
John Sullivan
Atlanta Braves bullpen coach
Succeeded by
Brian Snitker
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