Former Dodgers Catcher Joe Pignatano Passes Away

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Joe Pignatano, who spent four years as a Brooklyn and Los Angeles Dodgers catcher, passed away on Monday in Naples, Fla. Pignatano died from dementia at the age of 92.

The Brooklyn native played in the Majors from 1957-1962 with the Dodgers, Kansas City Athletics, San Francisco Giants and New York Mets. Pignatano made his MLB debut on April 28, 1957, becoming the 11,445th player in MLB history, and played his last game on Sept. 30, 1962.

After debuting with Brooklyn and appearing in eight games, Pignatano started to establish himself the next season as the team’s backup catcher when the Dodgers moved to Los Angeles.

Pignatano was the catcher for the final five innings of the Dodgers’ last home game at Ebbets Field against the Pittsburgh Pirates on Sept. 24, 1957. He entered the game as a replacement for Hall of Famer Roy Campanella in the fifth inning and helped pitcher Danny McDevitt throw a complete game shutout.

Pignatano also appeared in one inning as a defensive replacement in Game 5 of the 1959 World Series and earned a championship ring when the club defeated the Chicago White Sox.

As a Dodger, he appeared in 181 games over parts of four seasons and hit .229/.327/.361 with 12 home runs, 38 RBI and 46 runs scored.

Pignatano played his final season as a member of the Mets and he is the only Major League player to have ended his career by hitting into a triple play, which he did on Sept. 30.

Pignatano was a career .234/.332/.351 hitter in 307 career games with 16 home runs.

Pignatano’s coaching career

After his playing career, Pignatano started working as a coach for the Washington Senators from 1965-67 before joining the Mets in 1968.

Pignatano spent most of his time in baseball as the Mets bullpen coach, a role he held in from 1968-81, and he was the last living coach from the 1969 Miracle Mets. He was well-known for cultivating a vegetable garden, specifically tomatoes, in the Shea Stadium bullpen, and for engaging with young fans before the games during batting practice.

Working under Mets manager and Hall of Famer Gil Hodges, Pignatano earned another World Series ring during the 1969 season. He finished out his career coaching with the Atlanta Braves from 1982-84.

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