Orlando Manuel "Peruchin" Cepeda Pennes (Spanish pronunciation: [orˈlando seˈpeða]; born September 17, 1937) is a Puerto Rican former Major League Baseball first baseman and a member of the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York. The 1958 National League Rookie of the Year, Cepeda was voted the National League Most Valuable Player in 1967, the year his team, the St. Louis Cardinals, won the World Series. Overall, he appeared in three World Series and was the first winner of the American League's Outstanding Designated Hitter Award in 1973. He batted .300 or better 10 times in the 14 seasons he appeared in over 100 games, much of it played in what is now called the "Second Deadball Era."
Cepeda was born to a poor family. His father, Pedro "Perucho" Cepeda, was also a baseball player in Puerto Rico, an upbring that influenced Cepeda's interest in the sport from a young age. His first contact with professional baseball was as a batboy for the Santurce Crabbers of Puerto Rico. Pedro Zorilla, the team's owner, persuaded his family to let him attend a New York Giants tryout. He played for several Minor League Baseball teams before attracting the interest of the Giants, who had just moved to San Francisco.
During a career that lasted sixteen years, he played with the San Francisco Giants (1958–66), St. Louis Cardinals (1966–68), Atlanta Braves (1969–72), Oakland Athletics (1972), Boston Red Sox (1973), and Kansas City Royals (1974). Cepeda was selected to play in seven Major League Baseball All-Star Games during his career, becoming the first player from Puerto Rico to start one. In 1978, Cepeda was sentenced to five years in prison on drug possession charges, of which he served ten months in prison and the rest on probation. In 1987, Cepeda was contracted by the San Francisco Giants to work as a scout and "goodwill ambassador." In 1999, Cepeda was inducted into the Hall of Fame by the Veterans Committee.
By Dean Hanley
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