8/14 Pepi & the Cubs
Carlos Zambrano’s decision to retire mid-season is nothing new in the Cubs annals. According to historian Ed Hartig, Joe Pepitone did the same in 1972. He was 31, hitting .120 and announced his retirement on May 2. At the time, the Cubs were in last place with a 5-10 record, 5 1/2 games out. Pepitone had gone 0-for-4 on April 21 and was told he’d be out of the starting lineup for a couple days.
He pinch hit on April 23 and 24, then complained of a stomach disorder and pulled himself out of the
line-up for a couple days.
After a couple run-ins with manager Leo Durocher and failing to show for appointments with the team doctor, Pepitone announced his retirement. He said he’d lost interst in the game. The Cubs filed papers and the league placed the first baseman on the voluntary retirement list on May 2, 1972.
Pepi was next seen at the park on May 27 and within a couple days asked to be re-instated to the active roster. According to league rules, a player on the voluntary retirement list had to remain on the list for at least 60 days. Early in June, the Cubs got permission from the NL for Pepitone to begin working out and traveling with the team. He was activated from the VRL and returned to the line-up on June 30.
Pepitone ended up hitting .262 in 66 games for the season. He missed most of September after suffering an Achilles injury.
– Carrie Muskat