Submitted by Mike Juliano, Detroit MSBL League President
Joe ‘The Legend’ Pistono lost his battle with cancer on March 16th. He has played in the Detroit MSBL since 1991 and has played on many teams. At 66 he also played in the 18+ league with his son Steven and was still able to maintain a .438 batting average in 2019. Joe was not only a teammate to many, more importantly he was also a friend on and off the field.
Joe has played in Arizona at the MSBL World Series every year since 1992 and many of those years he also played in the Fall Classic in Florida. Joe has won multiple rings with the Inland Angels out of California and he was one of the main reasons the team won their championships.
Joe grew up in New Jersey and played college baseball (D 1) at New Mexico. After college he met his wife of 40 years, Ann, and moved to Michigan. Joe had two sons Joseph (Chelsea) and Steven who are also talented baseball players. Joe and sons also have played in the Father/Son tournament for the last six years.
It’s a sad day when any league member passes away but Joe surely lived up to his legend status. When news came of his passing, I received hundreds of calls from players not believing what they just heard.
I will say this: The Detroit MSBL has lost a true baseball brother, friend and teammate. ‘The Legend’ left us way too soon. Reading all of the tributes that were posted on Facebook is a testament to how much Joe will be missed.
Personally, I am blessed that I was able to be his teammate, his roommate while going to tournaments, and more importantly his friend for almost 30 years.
We all will have memories and stories to share about Joe for many years to come. Rest in Peace, Joe. You will be missed!
Here are a few words from long-time Inland Angels teammate Ted Poleto:
Joey walked towards the dugout in 1997 and I had to do a double take, immediately saying to myself ‘what is up with this guy?’ Ball bag over his shoulder and everything looked new…Once he got to the dugout, he placed his bag outside the dugout and hung it on the fence and began to open up his bag containing two helmets, several bats, and several pairs of batting gloves. But NOTHING was out of place. No field dust or dirt in his bag, and I said there is something different about this guy! He would do this EVERY year from that point. We shared four World Series rings and I am forever grateful Joe Pistono came into my life as a ballplayer. But much, much, much more important he became a lifelong friend and teammate.
How right I was! Joe wore #7 every year I played with him. He was a huge Yankee fan and loved the “Mick”. Once I started managing, I pulled #7 out of the uniforms for Joey. He didn’t ask, he knew. It was part of our connection. For me it was my respect for what he brought to the field. He was ‘The Mick’ to me at the MSBL level. He represented the guy you knew would show up and battle with you for nine innings
We lost Joe to a courageous battle. As much as it hurts and will carry over the rest of the time I play or manage the Inland Angels, I am reminded how he played this game we love and respect. Joey respected the game the players he played with and against. He was a fantastic team mate and played the game right.
He did not deserve this. He was the guy no one would ever think would be taken down by anything. He was a picture of health. You never worried if Joe would come to any tournament NOT ready to get after it. When we heard he was battling initially I was like ‘OK Joe’s got this!’ Eventually it beat him down, all the while never understanding he would never see his grand child or any other of life’s moments we all cherish and take for granted.
We miss you Joe and always will. You will forever hold a very special place in my heart and the hearts of countless others. My prayers of love and support go out to Ann and his family. You battled this until it was time for you to let go and go to a better place. There has to be a ball field in heaven because if there isn’t Joe will get together with all the greats like the Mick and hold his own because no played this game like Joey bats. Love you brother…RIP