Baseball legend Joe Pignatano dead at 92

Baseball fans were saddened this week to learn that legendary player Joe Pignatano died at the age of 92. 

According to Newsday, Pignatano passed away on Monday at a nursing home in Naples, Florida following a long struggle with dementia.

Pignatano played alongside other Hall of Fame members

It noted that the Brooklyn native played a total of 307 games over the course of his six-year Major League Baseball career.

That included time spent with such teams as the then-Kansas City Athletics as well as the San Francisco Giants. He also played for the New York Mets and the Dodgers in his native Brooklyn.

It was while with the latter team that he played alongside fellow Hall of Fame members Sandy Koufax, Roy Campanella, Don Drysdale, Gil Hodges, Pee Wee Reese, and Duke Snider.

After he was finished on the field, Pignatano went on to become a coach. Newsday pointed out that at the time of his death, he was the last living coach from the 1969 Miracle Mets.

Coach tended a garden at Shea Stadium

In addition to his achievement as an athlete and coach, Pignatano also gain a reputation as a gardener, something former Mets pitcher Jim McAndrew told the Associated Press about.

“He was fairly committed to taking care of his tomatoes,” McAndrew was quoted as saying on Monday. “It was Joe’s thing. A lot of love and effort and TLC.”

McAndrew went on to recall how while coaching the Mets in 1969, Pignatano found a tomato plant growing in the right-field bullpen at Shea Stadium and began to care for it. He went to grow more tomatoes as the season progressed.

“It was his home away from home,” McAndrew said of the tomato plant. “He had five or six hours a day down there with his tomatoes. He really took care of them. When we were on the road, the grounds crew helped out. They had the water.”

McAndrew was not alone in offering fond memories of Pignatano. Former Mets star Lee Mazzilli told the Associated Press, “To me, he was Uncle Joe. He loved the city and loved talking about his days with the Dodgers and with Gil. He was a baseball lifer.”

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