Two PAPD female officers stand stoically at the wake.

NEWS: Wake held for ex-MLB pitcher turned cop Anthony Varvaro

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Anthony Varvaro, the Port Authority police officer who was killed by a wrong-way driver on his way to the 9/11 commemoration in Manhattan, was remembered as a “family man” and “role model” at this Staten Island wake on Tuesday.

Some 300 mourners waited on line at the Matthew Funeral Home in Westerleigh to pay their respects to Varvaro, who was a Major League Baseball pitcher before becoming a cop in his native borough.

Family, friends and throngs of Varvaro’s brothers in blue wept while looking at white poster boards decorated with photos of the late officer playing baseball, posing with family and friends, and enjoying time at the beach.

Mourning police officers fought back tears at the Matthew Funeral Home in Westerleigh.
Varvato's family seen getting out of an SUV.
Two of Varvato’s children wore baseball jerseys with the late pitcher’s name embossed on them.

Varvaro, 37, was remembered as a “tremendous officer” by Port Authority Police Superintendent Edward Cetnar.

“I mean there are no words you can say. We’re there for support,” Cetnar told reporters outside the funeral home.

“And as a police department family [we’ll] do whatever we can for the family,” Cetnar said referring to his widow Kerry and their four kids — AJ, Johnny, Christina and Savannah.

“I couldn’t imagine being in this young lady’s position right now with four young children. And we can never forget this young man’s service to us,” Cetnar said. 

Varvaro was described by a lifelong family friend as a “calm and quiet” family man who was devoted to his children.

He always wanted to become an officer after pitching for six years in the majors so he could spend more time with his family, said the friend, who identified herself as Nubia.

“Even though we knew he always wanted football or baseball, he always wanted to be a police officer as well,” Nubia said of Anthony. 

“He wanted to be a family man. He didn’t want to be away all the time. His priority was his children,” said Nubia. “He didn’t like being away.”

Six members of the PAPD are standing in line at the wake.
Dozens of members of the PAPD paid their respects to Varvaro.
Varvaro seen in his PAPD uniform.
Varvaro had a passion for policing and community service and liked spending more time with his family after his baseball career ended.

Varvaro earned a criminal justice degree at St. John’s University before being called up to the big leagues for six years. The relief pitcher spent most of his time with the Atlanta Braves but also played ball for the Seattle Mariners and the Boston Red Sox.

“It’s an amazing attribute to him that where he came from — playing major league baseball on the world’s biggest stage — and then his dream was to be a police officer, and he followed that dream after living his dream of being a professional baseball player,” Center said. 

Varvaro seen on the mound with the Braves.
Varvaro pitched in the big leagues for six years, mostly with the Atlanta Braves.
Edward Cetnar talks to the media
Edward Cetnar, Superintendent of the Port Authority Police Department, remembered Varvato as a “tremendous officer.”

After joining the force, Varvaro gave back to the community by mentoring children at the department’s youth academy.

“Recently, he was one of the key instructors in our youth academy that we just started and serving as that role model for kids in the community,” Cetnar added. 

Varvaro was killed near Exit 14C of the New Jersey Turnpike around 4:25 a.m. Sunday as he made his way to the World Trade Center to protect the annual solemn remembrance ceremony.

Henry Plazas, 30, of Bridgewater, NJ was also killed in the crash, police said. He was allegedly driving the wrong way on the turnpike when he hit Varvaro head-on.

“The coincidence of this happening on September 11 when he’s on his way to work a security detail for paying homage to the folks we never forget — we lost 37 officers on that day —and he was part of the security detail for that,” Cetnar said.

A second wake was scheduled for Wednesday afternoon ahead of a funeral Mass at Our Lady of Good Counsel Church and a burial at St. Peter’s Cemetery Thursday.

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