Skip to Content

Baseball Hall of Famer Orlando Cepeda dies at age 86

By Homero De la Fuente, CNN

(CNN) — Baseball Hall of Famer Orlando Cepeda has died at age 86, his family announced via the San Francisco Giants on Friday.

“Our beloved Orlando passed away peacefully at home this evening, listening to his favorite music and surrounded by his loved ones,” his wife, Nydia, said in a statement.

The Giants held a moment of silence in honor of Cepeda during the team’s game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Oracle Park on Friday night.

Nicknamed the “Baby Bull,” Cepeda was an 11-time All-Star during his 17 seasons in the major leagues with six teams, including the Giants and St. Louis Cardinals. Cepeda finished with a career .297 batting average, 379 home runs and 1,365 RBI’s.

Cepeda made his major league debut with the Giants in 1958 – the year they moved from New York to San Francisco. He finished his rookie season hitting .312 with 25 home runs and 96 RBI’s to win the National League Rookie of the Year award. During his first seven seasons, playing alongside the late Willie Mays, he helped the Giants win the National League pennant in 1962, averaging 181 hits, 32 home runs, and 107 RBI’s a season, according to the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

“We lost a true gentleman and legend,” Giants chairman Greg Johnson said in a statement. “Orlando was a great ambassador for the game throughout his playing career and beyond. He was one of the all-time great Giants and he will truly be missed.”

Plagued by knee injuries, Cepeda missed most of the 1965 season and was eventually traded to the Cardinals in 1966. In his first full season with the Cardinals in 1967, Cepeda led the National League with 111 RBI’s and was voted the unanimous NL MVP, while leading the Cardinals to a World Series title.

Cepeda is one of only two players in National League history to win both Rookie of the Year and MVP honors, unanimously.

Following another successful season with the Cardinals, the team traded him to the Atlanta Braves in 1969 in exchange for future Hall of Famer Joe Torre. He would play two seasons with the Braves, winning the 1969 NL West title before being slowed by his recurring knee injuries.

The Puerto Rican native would have a successful stint with the Boston Red Sox in 1973, where he tallied 20 home runs and 86 RBI’s as the team’s first designated hitter. He retired in 1974 after spending time with the Kansas City Royals.

He was considered by many a sure Hall of Famer at the time of his retirement, until he was arrested in Puerto Rico in 1975 on suspicion of smuggling marijuana at an airport and later convicted of possession, serving 10 months in jail.

Falling just short in 1994 of induction by voters into the Baseball Hall of Fame in his final year of eligibility, Cepeda was later enshrined into the Hall in 1999 by the Veterans Committee, becoming the second native Puerto Rican to be inducted following Roberto Clemente in 1973, according to MLB.

The Giants retired his jersey number, 30, that same year and the team later built a statue of him outside Oracle Park in 2008.

“What another gut punch,” Giants manager Bob Melvin said after Friday’s game. “Another incredible personality. Just beloved here, the statue out front. The numbers he put up. There are a lot of legends here. He was certainly right in the middle of that. To have it so close in proximity to Willie, it’s kind of staggering.”

™ & © 2024 Cable News Network, Inc., a Warner Bros. Discovery Company. All rights reserved.

Article Topic Follows: CNN - Sports

Jump to comments ↓

CNN Newsource


KTVZ NewsChannel 21 is committed to providing a forum for civil and constructive conversation.

Please keep your comments respectful and relevant. You can review our Community Guidelines by clicking here

If you would like to share a story idea, please submit it here.

Skip to content