Cepeda, Hall of Famer and '67 NL MVP, dies at 86

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SAN FRANCISCO — Orlando Cepeda, the slugging first baseman nicknamed “Baby Bull” who became a Hall of Famer among the early Puerto Ricans to star in the major leagues, has died. He was 86.

The San Francisco Giants and his family announced the death Friday night, and a moment of silence was noted on the scoreboard at Oracle Park midway through a game against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

“Our beloved Orlando passed away peacefully at home this evening, listening to his favorite music and surrounded by his loved ones,” his wife, Nydia, said in a statement released through the team. “We take comfort that he is at peace.”

Cepeda was a regular at Giants home games through the 2017 season until he dealt with some health challenges. He was hospitalized in the Bay Area in February 2018 following a cardiac event.

One of the first Puerto Rican stars in the majors but limited by knee issues, he became Boston’s first designated hitter and credits his time as a DH for getting him enshrined into the Hall of Fame in 1999 as selected by the Veterans Committee.

When the Red Sox called Cepeda in December 1972 to inquire whether he’d like to be their first designated hitter, the unemployed player accepted on the spot.

Cepeda was an 11-time All-Star who played 17 seasons for six MLB teams. He won the 1958 NL Rookie of the Year award with the Giants, for whom he played his first nine seasons, and the NL MVP with the Cardinals in 1967, when he hit a career-high .325 with 25 home runs and 111 RBIs.

He had a career .297 batting average with 379 home runs and 1,365 RBIs.

Cepeda is one of only two players in NL history to win both Rookie of the Year and MVP unanimously, along with Albert Pujols, who won Rookie of the Year in 2001 and MVP in 2009.

Cepeda was a surefire Hall of Famer until his arrest in 1975 — a year after his retirement following a 17-season career — on charges of marijuana possession, for which he served nine months in prison.

His Hall of Fame election in 1999 came 20 years after he became first eligible.

“I can’t complain,” Cepeda told the Los Angeles Times in a 1985 interview. “I’ve lived the good times. I’ve lived the bad times. Not many people taste that.”

Information from The Associated Press and ESPN Stats & Information was used in this report.

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