As we’ve talked about before, former major league baseball players go on to do all sorts of things. Broadcasting, managing, coaching, politics, and so on. But this is a true rarity: Anthony Varvaro, a 32-year-old former relief pitcher who played parts of six years for the Atlanta Braves, Boston Red Sox, and Seattle Mariners, is about to start a brand new career as a Port Authority police officer.
He didn’t make the decision that long ago — it was just this past June that Varvaro decided to retire. He spoke about it at length with Troy Mauriello of The Torch, the independent student newspaper for St. John’s University, Varvaro’s alma mater.
“I kind of felt like my body was breaking down a bit, I felt like my career may have been coming to an end,” he said. “I probably could have played a little longer, but that’s when an opportunity with the Port Authority Police Department arrived.”
In fact, Varvaro was still in the majors when he decided to look into a career with the Port Authority police. And he was pitching for the Pawtucket Red Sox, Boston’s Triple-A affiliate, when he got “the call” from the police department. That’s when it all clicked: he decided to retire and pursue this new opportunity. He left behind some impressive career stats: 3.23 ERA and 150 strikeouts in 183.2 innings pitched from 2010 to 2015.
So how does his former baseball life compare to his time in the police academy? They’re very, very different.
“The [Major League Baseball] season is 162 games plus a 30-game spring training schedule, you’re traveling, that lifestyle is tough,” Varvaro said. “Trying to compare that to this lifestyle these past six months at the academy, I don’t want to say it was hard, but it was challenging because it was different. It was something that I had never experienced.”
To become a police officer, Varvaro had to go back to school. He graduated from St. John’s with a degree in criminal justice in 2005, and hadn’t been back in a classroom since. So getting back into the groove of learning in a classroom wasn’t easy. But just like getting back into shape after the offseason, it just took a little warming up before he was more comfortable.
Varvaro is actually going back to his roots. He was born and raised in Staten Island, NY, and so the Port Authority is close to his heart. And becoming a police officer is just another step on his unique life journey.
“Growing up in New York City, you don’t really have many too many athletes out of New York City that go pro [in baseball],” Varvaro said. “It wasn’t something that I considered realistic.”
Life is full of surprises. Not surprising? That Varvaro’s classmates at the academy asked him “a million questions every day” about his time in the majors. I mean, if there was a major league baseball player where you worked, wouldn’t you ask him a lot of questions?
Varvaro and his classmates graduated on December 8 and officially became police officers. Congratulations to him, and to his entire class, as they begin their careers.
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