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Joe Pignatano, Met Coach Known for His Bullpen Farm, Dies at 92


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In 1969, the yr the Mets unexpectedly won the World Series after seven seasons as a losing team, Pignatano began planting tomatoes within the bullpen beyond right field. Up got here cherry tomatoes, then beefsteak tomatoes. Eventually he grew pumpkins, cucumbers, eggplants, squash, zucchini, radishes and lettuce in a 30-foot long plot, with help from the pitchers who watered the plants.

“I transplant the crops within the spring and we’ve it every yr,” he told The Associated Press in 1977.

During spring training in early April 1972, Pignatano, Hodges, Walker and Eddie Yost, one other Mets coach, had returned to their motel from playing golf when Hodges had a fatal heart attack.

“Joe at all times reflected to me that when he saw him put the important thing in his door and fall, he knew that was it,” Gil Hodges Jr. said. “He fell without bracing himself.”

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Pignatano remained a coach with the Mets until 1981, under 4 more managers: Yogi Berra, Roy McMillan, Joe Frazier and Joe Torre. He coached for Torre with the Atlanta Braves from 1982 to 1984, until they were each fired. He then retired until the mid-Nineteen Nineties, when he coached for 2 years with the Colorado Silver Bullets, an all-female skilled baseball team.

Joseph Benjamin Pignatano was born on Aug. 4, 1929, in Brooklyn. His father, Aniello, was a longshoreman; his mother, Lucy (Esposito) Pignatano, was a seamstress.

Joe desired to play baseball from a young age. He spent the higher a part of eight seasons climbing the Brooklyn Dodgers’ minor league system before getting his first taste of the foremost leagues in 1957, the team’s last before moving to Los Angeles.

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