9/11: Ex-MLB pitcher-turned-cop dies in auto accident while en route to WTC ceremony

JERSEY CITY, N.J. — Anthony Varvaro, a former major-league pitcher for three teams who became a Port Authority police officer in metropolitan New York, was killed Sunday morning by a wrong-way driver on the New Jersey Turnpike, authorities said. He was 37.

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Varvaro was heading to New York City to work at the 9/11 commemoration at World Trade Center Command, Port Authority Police Supt. Edward Cetnar told the Hudson Daily Voice.

Varvaro died when his vehicle was hit head-on in Jersey City near the Holland Tunnel, Cetnar told the newspaper.

“Officer Varvaro represented the very best of this agency, and will be remembered for his courage and commitment to service,” according to a written statement issued on behalf of Port Authority Chairman Kevin O’Toole and Port Authority Executive Director Rick Cotton. “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 deepens today with the passing of Officer Varvaro. On behalf of the entire agency, we send our deepest condolences to Officer Varvaro’s (family).”

Varvaro, a right-handed pitcher and a Staten Island native, played in the majors from 2010 to 2015, according to He attended St. John’s University and was a 12th-round draft choice of the Seattle Mariners in the 2005 MLB June Amateur draft.

He pitched his rookie season with the Mariners in 2012 but spent most of his career with the Atlanta Braves, going 7-7 over 153 games as a setup man and reliever over four seasons. He went 3-1 with a 2.82 ERA in 62 games in 2013, helping the Braves win the N.L. East title.

He finished his MLB career with the Boston Red Sox in 2015. He had a career record of 7-9 with a 3.23 ERA.

“We are deeply saddened on the passing of former Braves pitcher Anthony Varvaro,” the Braves said in a tweet. “Anthony, 37, played parts of six seasons in the majors, including four with Atlanta.”

Varvaro finished his pro baseball career with Boston’s Triple-A franchise in Pawtucket. He retired in June 2016 and began training with the Port Authority, according to the Staten Island Advance.

His first post as a Port Authority officer was at The 9/11 Memorial & Museum in Manhattan, the newspaper reported.

“I kind of felt like my body was breaking down a bit, I felt like my career may have been coming to an end,” Varvaro told The Torch, St. John’s student newspaper, in a 2016 interview. “I probably could have played a little longer, but that’s when an opportunity with the Port Authority Police Department arrived.”

In 2021, Varvaro was named president of the Snug Harbor Little League in Staten Island, according to the Advance.

“Words cannot describe the tragedy that is losing (him),” the league posted on social media Sunday afternoon. “A man that embodied all that is good in youth sports, he will be forever missed.”

“Not only was Anthony the president, he was a tremendous person. Please keep his family in your thoughts and prayers.”

Varvaro was inducted into the Staten Island Sports Hall of Fame in 2019.

“It’s a tragedy,” John Eberlein, a friend of the family who coached Varvaro at Curtis High School in Staten Island, told the newspaper. “He was a better person than baseball player, and he was a great baseball player.”