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SOURCE SPORT: Latin American baseball legend and Hall of Famer of the San Francisco Giants Orlando Cepeda dies at the age of 86

Orlando Cepeda, the San Francisco Giants first baseman nicknamed “The Baby Bull,” died at his home on Friday. He was 86 years old.

“MLB mourns the passing of Hall of Famer Orlando Cepeda, who has passed away at age 86,” tweeted Major League Baseball. “Known as ‘Cha-Cha’ and ‘The Baby Bull,’ Cepeda hit 379 home runs, had a .297 batting average and was named to the All-Star teams 11 times in 17 seasons. He was unanimously selected as the NL Rookie of the Year in 1958 while with the Giants. He was also unanimously selected for the NL MVP award in 1967 when he helped lead the Cardinals to a World Series victory.”

Cepeda was the son of Puerto Rican baseball player Perucho Cepeda, who was barred from playing in the major leagues because he was black. Cepeda’s own career began after Pedro Zorilla convinced his family to send him to the United States to audition for the then-New York Giants. He passed the team’s tryouts but was sent to the Salem Rebels.

The San Francisco Giants brought Cepeda on board in 1958, and he finished his first season as the National League’s Rookie of the Year. After spending a few more seasons with the Giants, Cepeda was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals in 1966. Although he was named the National League’s Comeback Player of the Year after his first season, his performance declined over the next two seasons, and he was traded to the Atlanta Braves in 1969.

Cepeda retired from baseball in 1974. The following year, he was arrested at San Juan International Airport for drug possession after attempting to pick up two boxes of marijuana flown in from Colombia. Cepeda served 9 months of a 5-year sentence, but never had his conviction fully overturned.

Cepeda was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1999.

The baseball star was born on September 17, 1937 in Ponce, Puerto Rico. Despite his father’s baseball success, the family grew up “very poor,” he said in an interview. “My father (legendary player Pedro Cepeda) … was a great baseball player. Back then, a black player had no chance of playing in the major leagues,” explained Cepeda. “So my father was often in Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Venezuela… I think he was in Mexico for a year.”

Cepeda’s survivors include his wife Nydia and his five sons Hector, Orlando Jr., Carl, Malcolm and Ali.

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