Position: First baseman; Outfielder
Teams: San Francisco Giants, 1958-1966; St. Louis Cardinals, 1966-1968; Atlanta Braves, 1969-1972; Oakland A's, 1972; Boston Red Sox, 1973; Kansas City Royals, 1974
They called Orlando Cepeda "Baby Bull," in deference to "The Bull," the nickname given to his father, a legend among Puerto Rican ballplayers. Cepeda the younger (born 1937) was a consistent slugger for 17 years in the bigs. Many wonder how great he could have been if not for his chronically bad knees, which wiped away nearly three seasons of his career and hampered his effectiveness at other times.
Cepeda arrived in San Francisco with a bang. On April 15, 1958, he homered in his first major-league game. It was the first home run ever hit on the West Coast in regulation play. By the time the season ended, Cepeda had terrorized numerous pitchers. He batted .312 with 25 bombs, 96 RBI, and a league-leading 38 doubles. He was voted the National League's Rookie of the Year. Unanimously.
The following year, Cepeda swatted 27 homers, knocked in 105, and batted five points higher. Two years later, in 1961, he dominated all National League sluggers, clubbing 46 homers and driving in 142 runs to lead the loop in both categories. After three more seasons of 30-plus homers and at least 97 RBI, Cepeda damaged his knee in 1965 and missed nearly the entire season. When he returned, he couldn't get himself untracked at the plate. Giants management accused him of malingering, and they swapped him to the Cardinals.
Orlando Cepeda was unanimously voted
both Rookie of the Year and
Most Valuable Player
With the Cards in 1966, Cepeda hit .303 with 17 homers in 123 games and was named Comeback Player of the Year. The next season was when the trade really paid off. Orlando's bat led St. Louis to the NL pennant. His batting average was .325. His 111 RBI led the league. He was elected Most Valuable Player. Unanimously.
In 1970, with Atlanta, Cepeda knocked in 111 runs again, but his knee problems flared up. In 1973, he was named Designated Hitter of the Year as a member of the Red Sox, when he hit .289 with 20 homers and 86 RBI.
Cepeda's election to Cooperstown was probably delayed by his postcareer conviction for marijuana smuggling. He admitted his guilt and served 10 months of a five-year sentence.
In 13 of his big-league seasons, Cepeda hit at least 25 doubles. Twelve times he belted 20 homers or more. Nine times he amassed at least 90 RBI, and nine times he batted over .300. He was named to the Hall of Fame in 1999 by the Veterans Committee.
Here are Orlando Cepeda's major league totals:
| BA||G||AB|| R||H || 2B|| 3B||HR ||RBI ||SB |
|.297||2,124 ||7,927||1,131 ||2,351||417||27||379||1,365||142|
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