Orlando Cepeda

In his first ML game, the Giants’ first regular-season game in San Francisco, Cepeda homered to help beat Don Drysdale and the Dodgers. It was a fitting beginning to a spectacular career that included nine .300 seasons and eight seasons with 25 or more homers. Bill Rigney, his manager for his first two ML seasons, called him “the best young righthanded power hitter I’d seen.” He won Rookie of the Year honors in 1958 when he belted 25 homers, led the NL with 38 doubles, knocked in 96 runs, and batted .312. As a sophomore, he upped his figures to 27 home runs, 105 RBI, and .317. In 1961 he moved to first base, trading positions with Willie McCovey, and led the NL in home runs with 46 and RBI with 146, becoming more popular in San Francisco than teammate Willie Mays. Cepeda wrecked his knee in 1965, and was accused of malingering. Ultimately, he was traded to the Cardinals for Ray Sadecki. The 6’2″ 210-lb slugger led St. Louis to a pennant in 1967, topping the NL with 111 RBI and batting .325. Cepeda was nicknamed “The Baby Bull” after his father, “The Bull,” an outstanding slugger sometimes called “The Babe Ruth of Puerto Rico.” After his retirement as a player, Cepeda served time in prison for marijuana smuggling. He admitted his guilt and served his time, but it is likely that the incident was a factor in delaying his election to the Hall of Fame until 1999.