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Orlando Cepeda, baseball’s “Baby Bull,” dies at age 86

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Orlando Cepeda, the second Puerto Rican-born player to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, passed away on Friday at the age of 86. The San Francisco Giants announced his death but did not disclose the location.

Cepeda played 17 MLB seasons, mainly as a first baseman, hitting 379 home runs, 2,351 hits, and driving in 1,365 runs with a .297 batting average. He was the National League Rookie of the Year in 1958 and the MVP in 1967, helping the St. Louis Cardinals win the World Series that year. He batted over .300 in nine seasons and appeared in nine All-Star Games.

His father, Pedro, known as “The Bull,” was a celebrated professional player in Puerto Rico. Orlando earned the nickname “Baby Bull” and inspired future stars like Juan Marichal.

Cepeda’s reputation suffered after a 1975 arrest for smuggling marijuana, resulting in a 10-month prison sentence. This likely affected his Hall of Fame candidacy, and he wasn’t inducted until 1999 by the Veterans Committee.

Born on September 17, 1937, in Ponce, Puerto Rico, Cepeda overcame his father’s early death and racial barriers to excel in baseball. He was Rookie of the Year in 1958 and led the league in home runs and RBIs in 1961. After being traded to the Cardinals in 1966, he won MVP honors in 1967.

Cepeda’s later life included a foray into Buddhism and work with the Giants’ community relations department, speaking about drug and alcohol abuse. His legacy remains significant in both baseball and Puerto Rican sports history.

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