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Orlando Cepeda: 1937—: Baseball Player - Made Hall Of Fame Run

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It seemed as if the community of fans had come to reaccept and respect Cepeda, but the baseball community was a good deal slower. Even thought the Giants had opened their doors to him, many people in Major League Baseball (MLB) felt that Cepeda could never regain his former status as a man of character, integrity, and good sportsmanship. Because of this, Cepeda was often not invited to play in games with former All-Stars or other MLB events. And most importantly, Cepeda was denied the highest honor the MLB can award, entry into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Eligible since 1979, Cepeda was on the ballot of possible entrants since that time and for many years got very few votes from those in the baseball community.

But Cepeda began to sway those naysayers as well, and his vote totals began to rise. Needing 75 % of the votes to gain induction to the hall, fans of Cepeda began to campaign for his entrance to the hall in the 1990s. His work for the community of San Francisco as well as his work to promote sports as a way to stay away from bad influences began to outweigh his past transgressions. Year after year, Cepeda would receive more and more votes, but he could never seem to get quite near enough to the magic number of 318. The Hall rules state that once a player has been on the ballot for 15 years, he must be taken out of consideration, and as 1993—his fifteenth year—approached, many of Cepeda's fans became fearful that the silent ban on the once great baseball player would keep Cepeda out of the hall forever. When all of the votes were counted in 1993, Cepeda—who earlier that year had been inducted into the Puerto Rico Sports Hall of Fame—found himself seven votes short of the 318 votes.

Cepeda was disappointed by the fact that he was not included, saying to the San Francisco Chronicle, "In fact, I was very negative about the Hall of Fame. When they used to mention it to me I would say, 'I don't need the Hall of Fame. Everything is politics,' even though deep inside I knew I wanted to be there." But there was still hope. After a three-year waiting period, a Veterans Committee was allowed to induct any player who could no longer be voted in, and Cepeda's name was added to the list in 1996. Many fans and baseball critics alike felt that Cepeda would never be inducted to the Hall since the list was extremely long and many people in the community would never be able to reconcile with his actions.

All of these critics were silenced in 1999 when Cepeda learned that he had been selected by the Veterans Committee for entrance to the Hall of Fame. As he said to the Latino Legends in Sports website, "It's hard to explain the feeling when they told me I was selected to the Hall of Fame. I've been ready for this for 17 years. I've been through good things, bad things, but I was blessed to be born with the talent to play baseball." When Cepeda went to the Hall of Fame to be inducted, he found that his picture would be hanging with many other great players of ethnicity in the Hall, including his father Perucho Cepeda.

Cepeda currently lives in San Francisco and continues to work with new players and as a representative for the San Francisco Giants. He has written a book about his life, entitled Baby Bull: From Hardball to Hard Times and Back, that he hopes will help many people to look at his life as a whole and see not only the mistakes he made, but how people can reform from the traps that they fall into. He also continues to stress the importance of family and heritage, and how everything is relative to those strong backgrounds. According to the Latino Legends in Sports website, he said in his acceptance speech at the Baseball Hall of Fame, "I'm proud to be a Puerto Rican and I will be a role model to the people of my country."


Selected works

(with Herb Fagen) Baby Bull: From Hardball to Hard Times and Back, Taylor, 1999.


Sources

Books


The Complete Marquis Who's Who, Marquis Who's Who, 2003.


Periodicals


Library Journal, February 1, 1999, p. 95.

San Francisco Chronicle, July 23, 1999.

Sports Illustrated, June 14, 1990, p. 14; July 26 1999, pp. 74-77.

Sporting News, January 10, 1994, pp. 33-34; January 31, 1994, p. 7; March 1, 1999, p. 63; July 26, 1999, pp. 26-29.


On-line


"Cepeda, Orlando M.," Hickok Sports, www.hick oksports.com/biograph/cepedaor.shtml (June 27, 2003).

"Orlando Cepeda," Baseball Library, www.baseball library.com/baseballibrary/ballplayers/C/Cepeda_ Orlando.stm (June 27, 2003).

"Orlando Cepeda," Baseball-Reference, www.base ball-reference.com/c/cepedor01.shtml (June 27, 2003).

"Orlando Manuel Cepeda," Biography Resource Center, www.galenet.com/servlet/BioRC (June 27, 2003).

"Orlando Manuel Cepeda," Latino Legends in Sports, www.latinosportslegends.com/cepeda.htm (June 27, 2003).

—Adam R. Hazlett

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