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Orlando Cepeda

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Orlando Manuel Cepeda Pennes
(Cha Cha or Baby Bull)

  • Bats Right, Throws Right
  • Height 6' 2", Weight 210 lb.

Inducted into Hall of Fame in 1999

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[edit] Biographical Information

Cepeda in 1962
"He was the toughest hitter I ever faced." - Lew Burdette
"All right, El Birdos, who is the best team in the league? Is it the Dodgers? (Response: No!) Is it the Giants? (Response: No!) Who's the best team in the league? (Response: We are!)" - Cheer of the sort led by Orlando Cepeda of the Cardinals after every game, especially after beating the Giants

Orlando Cepeda was known as "the Baby Bull" and "Cha Cha" during his major league career, but known to Spanish speakers as "Peruchin". His father, Pedro Cepeda, was a well-known local baseball hero in their native Puerto Rico and was the original "Perucho" and "the Bull". Cepeda's major league career included nine seasons where he batted .300 or better, and eight seasons of 25 or more homers. In 1958, as a 20-year-old rookie with the San Francisco Giants, Cepeda managed to maintain a .312 batting average, hit 20 home runs and collect 96 RBIs en route to landing Rookie of the Year honors unanimously. Cepeda's finest season came in 1967; in a year dominated by strong pitching, Cepeda led the St. Louis Cardinals' offense with a .325 average, 25 HR and 111 RBIs. Cepeda earned National League Most Valuable Player honors in that year, again unanimously, while taking the Cardinals to beat the Boston Red Sox in the World Series. Acquired in mid-season 1972 by the Oakland A's from the Atlanta Braves, Cepeda's aching knees could go no more and he played only three games for the A's. Cepeda was acquired by the Boston Red Sox after the season. With the designated hitter rule coming into effect in 1973, he was freed from the necessity to play in the field and flourished that year as baseball's first full-time DH, hitting 20 home runs.

Orlando Cepeda retired from playing baseball in 1975 and was a Chicago White Sox coach in 1980. Away from the diamond, he continued to be recognized for charity work and humanitarian efforts. Cepeda lived and played in a time when the United States was at a crossroads of social change and racial intolerance. He was often the target of racial slurs, but the tough Cepeda always managed to remain proud and be a spokesperson and pioneer for Hispanic players everywhere. However, Cepeda's baseball career and professional achievements have always been haunted by an incident in which Cepeda was arrested at San Juan airport after trying to pick up more than 150 pounds of marijuana. He served 10 months in a state prison.

Cepeda was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1999, when the Veterans Committee elected him, becoming the second native Puerto Rican to join the Baseball Hall of Fame. During his induction, Cepeda said: "I'm proud to be a Puerto Rican and I will be a role model to the people of my country". Orlando Cepeda became the sixth Hispanic and the only living Puerto Rican in the National Baseball Hall of Fame. (Luis Aparicio, Rod Carew, fellow Puerto Rican Roberto Clemente, Juan Marichal and Tony Perez are the other hispanic players in the Hall). He and Albert Pujols are the only two players in National League history to win both the Rookie of the Year Award and the Most Valuable Player Awards unanimously.

He is the uncle of professional boxer Ricardo Cepeda.

[edit] Notable Achievements

  • NL Rookie of the Year Award (1958)
  • 7-time NL All-Star (1959-1964 & 1967)
  • NL MVP (1967))
  • NL Doubles Leader (1958)
  • NL Home Runs Leader (1961)
  • 2-time NL RBI Leader (1961 & 1967)
  • 20-Home Run Seasons: 12 (1958-1964, 1966, 1967, 1969, 1970 & 1973)
  • 30-Home Run Seasons: 5 (1961-1964 & 1970)
  • 40-Home Run Seasons: 1 (1961)
  • 100 RBI Seasons: 5 (1959, 1961, 1962, 1967 & 1970)
  • 100 Runs Scored Seasons: 3 (1961-1963)
  • Won a World Series with the St. Louis Cardinals in 1967
  • Baseball Hall of Fame: Class of 1999


NL MVP
1966 1967 1968
Roberto Clemente Orlando Cepeda Bob Gibson
NL Rookie of the Year
1957 1958 1959
Jack Sanford Orlando Cepeda Willie McCovey

[edit] Further Reading

  • Orlando Cepeda (as told to George Vass): "The Game I'll Never Forget", Baseball Digest, October 1970, pp. 27-29. [1]

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