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Orlando Cepeda: 1937—: Baseball Player

Lost Respect Of Fans And Baseball Community

To many fans, the guilty verdict shattered the image of the fun-loving and honorable Cepeda that they had known on the baseball field. Many could not understand why he had done it. But as Cepeda said to Sports Illustrated, "When you play baseball, you have a name and money and you feel like you're bulletproof. You forget who you are. Especially in a Latin country, they make you feel like you are God." The damage to Cepeda's image was swift and harsh. Many Puerto Ricans took his crime as a personal slight against the country. As Mariano Diaz, one of Cepeda's closest friends told Sports Illustrated, "So Orlando was judged. He no longer walked with Clemente. To the people, it was like Roberto was pointing down at Orlando and saying, 'Bad boy! You sinned, and you disgraced your people.'"

Cepeda only spent ten months in jail during 1978 and was released on good behavior, but even though he had served his time to the government, his penance to the baseball community had just begun. As he told Sports Illustrated, "I learned that one mistake, in two seconds, can make a disaster that seems to last forever." Cepeda had lost everything by going to jail, including his car, his land in Puerto Rico, and his wife as well after being hit with a paternity suit over a child he had fathered out of wedlock. Cepeda sunk into a deep depression and found that work was scarce for a baseball player who was out of public favor.

Another low point for Cepeda came in 1984 when he was kicked out of Dodger Stadium while watching batting practice and catching up with some of the players. According to the Dodgers security, the team did not want to be associated with Cepeda in any form and that included anyone seeing him in the stadium when he wasn't a paying customer. Cepeda has admitted in interviews that it was at this moment that he almost gave into his despair and ended his life, but thoughts of his son, Orlando Jr., whom he had custody of, saved him. He told Sports Illustrated, "I lay in bed and thought, He depends on me. I'm the only one he has." From that point on, Cepeda began to look for a way to turn his life around.

Additional topics

Brief BiographiesBiographies: Katie Burke (1953–) Biography - Personal to Galeazzo Ciano (1903–1944) BiographyOrlando Cepeda: 1937—: Baseball Player Biography - Followed In Father's Footsteps, Won Rookie Of The Year, Helped Cardinals Win Championship