Former major league pitcher Anthony Varvaro, who left baseball to work as a police officer, was killed in a collision en route to work at a 9/11 memorial event in New York City, officials said.
Varvaro, who played most of his major league days for the Atlanta Braves, was an officer of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey assigned to work the memorial in Manhattan, police and team officials said.
New Jersey State Police said in a statement that he died in his adopted home of Jersey City on Sunday when the vehicle he was in was struck by an apparent “wrong-way driver.”
The agency said he was en route to an assignment at the day’s World Trade Center ceremonies when a Toyota RAV4 going the wrong way on the New Jersey Turnpike Hudson Bay Extension East struck his vehicle at 4:25 a.m. near milepost 6.7.
The driver of the Toyota, identified as Henry A. Plazas, 30, of Bridgewater, was also killed, according to the state police statement.
It wasn’t clear why Plazas would have been driving in the wrong direction, and the cause of the collision was under investigation, police said.
The Braves said in a statement that the news was sorrowful. Varvaro played four of his roughly six seasons as a pro on its squad, the team said.
“He voluntarily retired from MLB in 2016 to become a Port Authority police officer,” the team said.
His last major league home, the Boston Red Sox, said in a statement, “We are deeply saddened by the passing of former Red Sox pitcher Anthony Varvaro.”
Varvaro was raised in the New York City borough of Staten Island and drafted out of St. John’s University by the Seattle Mariners in 2005.
After he had right elbow surgery in 2015, Boston assigned him to the minor leagues, where he played for the Pawtucket Red Sox.
The Boston organization re-signed him and invited him to spring training, but Varvaro left in 2016 to pursue a law enforcement career.