Tributes to Willie Mays’ Teammate Orlanda Cepeda, Dead at 86

Louis Requena
Louis Requena

Orlando Cepeda, the Hall of Famer who was one of the first Puerto Ricans to star in the major leagues, has died at the age of 86.

The San Francisco Giants and his family announced his death Friday night, and a moment of silence was observed at Oracle Park during the 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’s death comes just 10 days after the death of fellow Giants Hall of Famer Willie Mays, at the age of 93–with whom the first baseman played towards the end of Mays' career.

“Man, what another gut punch,” said Giants manager Bob Melvin, who grew up in the Bay Area cheering for the team. “Another just incredible personality and just beloved here. Statue out front. The numbers he put up, there are a lot of legends here and he’s certainly right in the middle of that. To have it so close in proximity to Willie, it’s kind of staggering.”

San Francisco Giants Legend Willie Mays Dies at 93

Cepeda, a slugging first baseman nicknamed “Baby Bull”, played for the Giants as well as St. Louis, Atlanta, Oakland, Boston and Kansas City. In the spring of 1969, Cepeda was traded by the Cardinals to the Braves for Joe Torre.

A seven-time All-Star who played in three World Series, Cepeda was the 1958 NL Rookie of the Year with San Francisco and NL MVP in 1967 with St. Louis.

“Orlando Cepeda’s unabashed love for the game of baseball sparkled during his extraordinary playing career, and later as one of the game’s enduring ambassadors,” Hall of Fame Chair Jane Forbes Clark said. “We will miss his wonderful smile at Hall of Fame Weekend in Cooperstown, where his spirit will shine forever, and we extend our deepest sympathies to the Cepeda family.”

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