As per our current Database, Joe Gaetjens died on Jul 10, 1964 (age 40).
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He won two Ligue Haïtienne championships when he was 14 and 16.
Gaetjens joined Etoile Haïtienne at the age of fourteen and won two Ligue Haïtienne championships in 1942 and 1944. In his first championship appearance, at the age of eighteen, came against longer established Racing Club Haïtien, another club in Port-au-Prince. Down 3–0 at halftime and a heckling goalkeeper directed at Gaetjens after each goal scored, "Ti-Joe" urged his teammates to hold its defense to allow no more goals. Less than ten minutes after Racing's last goal, Gaetjens rebounded and scored to break the shutout. At the 53rd minute, Fritz Joseph scored. With seven minutes remaining, Frérot Rouzier scored the tying goal equalizing the match at 3–3. At the final minutes of regulation, a defiant Gaetjens kept on the offense, breaking the tie at 3–4, which ended up being the game-winner. To this day, Racing Club Haïtien refuses to play matches on the "Jeudi Saint" (Holy Thursday); the day of washing of the feet. During his tenure with the club, he became known for his goal-scoring headers.
Gaetjens debuted on the international scene on April 2, 1944, for the Haiti national team, losing to Curaçao, 0–5. In the following match on April 5, 1944, against Venezuela, the Haitian team was shut out 0–2. Both matches were friendlies.
Gaetjens went to New York City in 1947 to study accounting at Columbia University on a scholarship from the Haitian government and concluded that he could not make a living from professional soccer in Haiti. During this time, he played three seasons for Brookhattan of the American Soccer League (ASL). In his first season during 1947–48, he scored the second-most goals in the league with 14. In his third season, he won the league's scoring title totaling 18 goals in 15 games during 1949–50. He was making $25 per game, while also working for the Brookhattan owner's restaurant and washing dishes.
On December 27, 1953, Gaetjens played in a World Cup Qualifier for Haiti against Mexico.
Gaetjens returned to Haiti in 1954 and remained active in soccer, rejoining Etoile Haïtienne, and also became a spokesman for Colgate-Palmolive. He played a few seasons and then left the game for good in 1957, a few months after the birth of his first son.
On July 8, 1964, the morning after Duvalier declared himself "president for life", the rest of the Gaetjens family fled the country in fear of reprisal for the younger Gaetjens brothers' rebellious associations, but Joe stayed, thinking that Duvalier's regime would be uninterested in him since he was only a sports figure. That morning, he was arrested by the nation's Tonton Macoutes secret police and was taken to a prison called Fort Dimanche notorious for its brutally inhumane practices, where it is presumed he was killed some time later that month. His body has never been found.
In 1972, Gaetjens was honored in a benefit game involving the New York Cosmos and a team composed of local Haitians at Yankee Stadium. Joe Gaetjens was posthumously inducted into the United States National Soccer Hall of Fame in 1976.
Gaetjens, although light-skinned, was portrayed by a "dark-skinned" Haitian actor Jimmy Jean-Louis in the 2005 film called The Game of Their Lives and was depicted as a practitioner of Voodoo, which outraged his family, leading them to proclaim how ludicrously inaccurate the interpretation was. In reality, Gaetjens, like most Haitians, grew up as a Catholic and went to church every Sunday. His sister, Mireille, voiced her displeasure and condemned the notion over a phone interview by saying: "Our family traded rum and coffee and ran schools... No family member was into voodoo. I've never even seen voodoo being practiced. Nobody in the family has ever even set foot in a voodoo church!"
In 2010, his son Lesly Gaetjens wrote a biography about his father: The Shot Heard Around the World: The Joe Gaetjens Story.
Currently, Joe Gaetjens is 40 years old. Joe Gaetjens will celebrate 41st birthday on Friday, March 19, 2021.
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