On a day reserved for grief and remembrance, the pain for members of the St. John’s and Port Authority communities went a little deeper.
Thirty-seven-year-old Port Authority Police Officer Anthony Varvaro was killed in a car accident in New Jersey early Sunday morning. The former St. John’s and Major League Baseball pitcher-turned-cop was on his way to serve at the World Trade Center as part of its 9/11 remembrance.
The other driver involved in the incident, 30-year-old Henry Plaras of Bridgewater, NJ, was driving the wrong way down the New Jersey Turnpike, when he collided head-on with Varvaro’s vehicle. Plaras was also killed in the crash.
“I am, along with the St. John’s community, devastated by the loss of Anthony Varvaro,” Ed Blankmeyer, his coach at St. John’s, said in a statement.
“He had an arm like a firebolt, but a heart of gold,” he added.
A Staten Island native, Varvaro spent three years at St. John’s. He went on to play six seasons in the Major Leagues, the bulk of them coming with the Atlanta Braves, from 2010 to 2015. Upon being sent to the Triple-A affiliate of the Boston Red Sox for a rehab stint in 2016, according to the American Police Beat, he began to consider a career in law enforcement.
He retired from professional baseball in June 2016. Two days post-retirement, he entered the Port Authority Police Academy.
Varvaro spent five years on patrol with the department before transferring back to the academy to become an instructor.
“Officer Varvaro represented the very best of this agency,” Port Authority Chairman Kevin O’Toole and Executive Director Rick Cotton said in a joint statement.
Varvaro is survived by his wife, Kerry, and their four children.