A former Major League Baseball pitcher who retired to become a Port Authority police officer was killed on Sunday while driving to work at the September 11th memorial ceremony, authorities said.
Anthony Varvaro, a 37-year-old father of four, was fatally struck by a motorist driving the wrong way on the New Jersey Turnpike at 4:30 a.m., state police said. The wrong-way driver, Henry Plazas, was also killed in the crash.
A native of Staten Island, Varvaro spent six years as a professional baseball player, pitching for the Seattle Mariners, the Boston Red Sox and the Atlanta Braves.
The Braves confirmed his death on Twitter, noting that he was “en route to serve at the World Trade Center Command in commemoration of September 11, 2001 activities when he was involved in a motor vehicle accident.”
In 2016, Varvaro began a career in law enforcement, sitting for the Port Authority Police entrance exam just two days after pitching his final game, according to a profile published earlier this year by the American Police Beat.
He linked the unusual career change to growing up alongside 9/11 first responders on Staten Island. He worked as a Port Authority patrol officer for five years, much of it with the World Trade Center Command, before being transferred to an instructor role in the academy.
In a joint statement, Port Authority Chairman Kevin O’Toole and Executive Director Rick Cotton described Varvaro as “the very best of this agency.”
“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,” the statement continued.
Varvaro also served as president of the Snug Harbor Little League. “Not only was Anthony the President he was a tremendous person,” the league wrote on social media.