Saturday, July 18, 2015

Former Yankee Joe Pepitone: I got Mickey Mantle stoned and hid drugs in Wrigley Field ivy

Longtime Yankees first baseman and outfielder Joe Pepitone reminisced with Rolling Stone upon the reissue of his 1975 autobiography, Joe, You Coulda Made Us Proud

The tell-all-book — there is talk about making it into a movie — covers his days playing on the diamond but, more interestingly, recounts colorful off-the-field anecdotes like playing pool with Frank Sinatra, hanging out with the Mafia and turning Mickey Mantle and Whitey Ford on to pot.

And in one particularly crazy story, he admits hiding the drugs he regularly got from fans in Wrigley Field’s ivy while playing for the Cubs in the early 1970s.

And, after reading this excerpt, you will never look at the revered ivy the same way again:

The Bleacher Bums at the Cubs’ ballpark, they’d hit me in the back with a (expletive) football during warm-ups, and I’d turn around and play catch with them. One time, someone hit me in the back with some foil, all wrapped up, and there’s like four joints in it. I went and stuck it in the ivy on the outfield wall, but I remembered where I put it. Once they saw me do that, the regular Bleacher Bums started throwing things at me every day; I’d get hit with a little packet, I’d look and there’s a gram of coke in there. I was like, “Holy (expletive)!” Right into the ivy with it! I’m telling you, I got speed, I got everything. Used to be I was always the first person at the ballpark, and the first one to leave; next thing you know, people are wondering why I’m hanging out at the ballpark so long. Leo [Durocher] goes, “You still here?” “Yeah, I gotta get a rubdown from the trainer!” Then I’d be out in centerfield with my shorts on, looking through the ivy to find my dope. I loved Chicago! With the (expletive) I was getting in centerfield, I woulda played for nothing!

Pepitone, a hard-partying fan favorite, was named to All-Star teams (1963-65), won a championship (1962) and some Gold Gloves (1965, 1966, 1969), but he never truly fulfilled his potential.

And that was before his wild life really caught up to him. Pepitone was sentenced to six months in jail for drug charges in 1986.

The shaggy-topped Pep was at his prime in the Swinging Sixties so the interview is both entertaining and real — which means Pepitone drops the F-word and names with equal aplomb.

He also seems pretty proud about the numerous mentions he got on Seinfeld.

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