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Baseball Icon And Hall of Famer Orlando Cepeda Dies At 86

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Puerto Rican baseball legend Orlando Cepeda has died at the age of 86.

Known as “The Baby Bull,” Cepeda hit 379 home runs and had 1,365 RBIs during his 17-year career with teams including the Giants and Cardinals.

He was the 1967 NL MVP and a 1999 Hall of Fame inductee. Cepeda’s wife announced he passed away peacefully at home. Tributes poured in from fans, teams, and politicians honoring his legacy and contributions to the game.

The death of Orlando Cepeda comes just ten days after fellow Hall of Famer Willie Mays passed away.

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Puerto Rican Baseball Legend Orlando Cepeda Dies At 86

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Cepeda, the celebrated baseball icon from Puerto Rico, has reportedly passed away. The news of his passing was shared by the San Francisco Giants, with whom Cepeda spent the first nine seasons of his illustrious 17-year career starting in 1958.

To honor his memory, the Giants observed a moment of silence before the sixth inning of their Friday game against the visiting Los Angeles Dodgers, which ended in a 5-3 victory.

During his career, Cepeda hit an impressive 379 home runs, accumulated 1,365 RBIs, and boasted a .297 batting average with an OPS of .849.

Cepeda spent the majority of his career with the Giants, Cardinals, and Atlanta Braves before concluding his playing days with the Oakland Athletics, Boston Red Sox, and Kansas City Royals.

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Orlando Cepeda: MVP, Rookie Of The Year, And Baseball Legend

Orlando Cepeda
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Dubbed “Baby Bull,” Cepeda earned the title of National League Most Valuable Player in 1967, a year when he played a pivotal role in leading the St. Louis Cardinals to a World Series victory over the Boston Red Sox.

According to the Daily Mail, the baseball legend was also named the National League Rookie of the Year in 1958, marking the Giants’ first season in San Francisco after relocating from New York City’s Polo Grounds. That season, he batted .312 with 25 home runs, 96 RBIs, and a league-leading 38 doubles in 148 games.

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San Francisco Giants president and CEO Larry Baer expressed his grief: “This is truly a sad day for the San Francisco Giants. For all of Orlando’s extraordinary baseball accomplishments, it was his generosity, kindness, and joy that defined him. No one loved the game more.”

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Orlando Cepeda’s Career Had Ups And Downs

Orlando Cepeda and Luis Enrique "Tite" Arroyo
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Cepeda was a runner-up for the MVP award in 1961, a year in which he led the league with 46 home runs and topped the majors with 142 RBIs.

The 11-time All-Star also earned eight of those selections during four consecutive seasons from 1959 to 1962, when the league featured two All-Star Games per year.

However, his career was marred by injuries in 1965 and early 1966, limiting him to just 33 games in 1965 and 19 in 1966.

As Cepeda struggled with these setbacks, Willie McCovey took over as the Giants’ first baseman.

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Orlando Cepeda Made A Huge Impact During His Run With The Cardinals

Orlando Cepeda
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Requesting a trade, Cepeda was moved to the St. Louis Cardinals on May 8, 1966, in exchange for pitcher Ray Sadecki.

Cepeda’s impact was immediate, helping the Cardinals achieve a 101-win season in 1967 and clinching the World Series title in a seven-game series against the Boston Red Sox.

The following year, the Cardinals reached the World Series again but fell to the Detroit Tigers in another seven-game showdown.

Cepeda was honored with induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1999.

Tributes Pour In For Orlando Cepeda

In a statement, Cepeda’s wife, Nydia, shared that he “passed away peacefully at home this evening, listening to his favorite music and surrounded by his loved ones,” adding that they “take comfort that he is at peace.”

On X, fans paid tribute to Cepeda with one writing: “He was a joy to watch: loads of talent and grace. I grew up a Dodgers fan but still enjoyed watching him display his immense skills.”

Another added: “My dad’s all-time fave. He got choked up telling me about him this morning. Rip”

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Politician Nydia Velazquez said: “Born in Ponce, Orlando Cepeda was one of the first Puerto Rican stars in Major League Baseball, a World Series champion, and a Hall-of-Famer. He was a trailblazer for Latino players & continued to impact his community long after his playing career ended. RIP Peruchín.”

The Red Sox’s official page also paid tribute to the baseball Icon, writing: “We join our baseball family in mourning the loss of Orlando Cepeda, who gave so much to the game. He played a season for the Red Sox in 1973, serving as the club’s first designated hitter. Our thoughts are with the Cepeda family.”

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