That’s Amaury’s News and Commentary: A One on One with Orlando Cepeda

Former San Francisco Giant first baseman and Hall of Famer Orlando Cepeda the subject of Amaury Pi Gonzalez’ interview on That’s Amaury’s News and Commentary (file photo mercurynews.com)

A One on One with Orlando Cepeda

That’s Amaury News and Commentary

By Amaury Pi-González

On the eve of the 2021 baseball season, I had the pleasure of speaking over the phone with the great Cha Cha, Orlando Cepeda, somebody I have not seen or spoken with in a few years. Through the years we have spoken numerous times.

During the 1990’s working Giants Spanish radio at Candlestick and later at ATT, SBC, PAC BELL Park. He used to come around and we would talk. On some occasions he sat with me during a radio broadcast and did some commentary. Orlando was one of the first Major League Players who endorsed The Hispanic Heritage Baseball Museum Hall of Fame when it was founded in 1999 in San Francisco.

He is enshrined in that Hall of Fame as well as in The National Baseball Hall of Fame at Cooperstown. He won the rookie of the year with the San Francisco Giants in 1958, the Most Valuable Player of the National League in 1967 with the St Louis Cardinals.

He was one of the most popular players ever to wear a San Francisco Giants uniform. The interview was conducted in Spanish, Orlando born in Ponce, Puerto Rico always prefer to speak Spanish when we talk. In our chat we talked about the day when the Giants retired his number 30 prior to a game in Candlestick Park against the St Louis Cardinals in 1999, a ceremony on the field with Giants announcer Lon Simmons, yours truly who was asked by the Giants to be the co-mc with Simmons, Jack Buck, radio voice of the St. Louis Cardinals and the owner of the Giants Peter Magowan.

We were all on the field between home plate and the mound, lined-up behind a podium. Towards the end of the ceremony a big Number 30 was unveiled in front of the fence in right-center field as the fans stood-up and cheered. I asked Orlando about that moment, responded right away.

Orlando: “Yes, of course I remember and I also remember that Mr. Magowan told me “now Orlando the next step for you is the Hall of Fame” and that helped me a lot. Soon I was in the Hall of Fame. He was a great owner…Magowan loved the game, very committed owner and that was a great honor for me that the Giants retired number “30”.

Orlando was in good spirits. We reminisced about some of the great points in his career. Like the people who saw him play in San Francisco and remember him playing with the Giants in 1958, his very first year in the majors. Is it true that in 1958 you were more popular than the great Willie Mays in San Francisco?

Orlando: ”Well, what happened is that I was a rookie; it was a new team for me. Willie came from New York, and I did very well that year, you know, people liked me in San Francisco. Willie is the greatest ballplayer ever, but good things happened to me that year, and when that happens and the people like you…also I had a good year…and that’s what happened”.

(That year he won the Rookie of the Year hitting .312 with 25 home runs and 96 runs batted-in) In 1967 Orlando was traded to the St Louis Cardinals from pitcher Ray Sadecki. Were you happy when that trade happened?

Orlando: “Well, I had problems with Herman Franks (Giants manager) and it was going to be me or McCovey who was going to be traded”

About his arrival in St Louis? Orlando responded

Orlando: “I had a great welcome there, the guys like Gibson, McCarver, and Brock they all welcome me and treated me very well”

At one the time in the interview, there was a moment when even before I asked the next question, he said something about five Puerto Ricans in the Hall of Fame. And that is true. Puerto Ricans like Roberto Clemente, Iván Rodríguez, and Roberto Alomar and soon to be Edgar Martínez who was born in New York to Puerto Rican parents, moved to the island to live with his grandmother, he said: Orlando followed…

Orlando: “Yes, great…we have five Puerto Ricans now in the Hall of Fame, that’s great, I am very proud of that”.

How about your relation with your compatriot Roberto Clemente?

Orlando: “When I first played with the Giants, Roberto was already playing (since 1955) with the Pirates, Roberto helped me a lot, he was a great guy”

I asked him about what does he thinks about the recent changes in the game of baseball, many with the purpose of making the game faster

Orlando: “Well, a lot of people making these changes never played the game, they are not baseball people, they are computer and business people and all that, but not real baseball people”.

Orlando’s opinion is a common one for older players who had to do everything to win a game, including bunting, hit and run and other stuff that today is well…cancelled in baseball? Orlando was getting a little tired, and he said:

Orlando: “I am speaking too fast, too much”

He seemed to be a little short of breath, so we paused. Then… after a few seconds. We spoke about Opening Day in baseball this April 1.

Orlando: “I am hoping to be at the Giants first game at home April 9”

He said as we said goodbye mutually wished each other well and told me he send his best wishes to everybody. A couple of years ago Orlando had a cardiac incident and spent some time in the hospital. However he made a public appearance in January 2018 to celebrate the 80th birthday of Willie McCovey at AT&T Park.

Gracious, passionate and always ready to talk baseball, it was fun to talk for about 15 minutes, not more, but he seemed alert and with very good memory of some of the events we spoke about in his very stellar career. Other stuff we touch bases, like, he doesn’t agree much with some of the changes in the game today, although he did say at the end of his career the DH rule helped him, he played in 1973 (next to his last year) with the Boston Red Sox, as he said “I was one of the first designated hitters”.

1973 was the first year for the DH rule, Orlando seems to be fine with that, but not with some of the recent changes in the game as previous stated.

Muchas gracias al gran Orlando Cepeda por su cortesía de concederme esta entrevista por la vía telefónica, sigues siendo el mismo Cha Cha, que Dios te Bendiga. Translation “Thanks to the great Orlando Cepeda for his courtesy granting me this interview over the phone, your still the same Cha Cha, may God Bless You.

Stay well and stay tuned

Amaury Pi Gonzalez is the vice president and Orlando Cepeda is a founder of the Major League Baseball Hispanic Heritage Hall of Fame Museum and does News and Commentary at http://www.sportsradioservice.com

No players selected to be in Baseball’s Hall of Fame this year

Former Boston Red Sox Curt Schilling who failed election in to the MLB Hall of Fame on Tue Jan 26, 2021 namely because of his controversial political views requested to be taken off next year’s ballot and will try and get in in front of the Veteran Committee in 2022 (MassLive.com file photo)

By Jerry Feitelberg

The eligible members of the BBWAA (baseball writers association of America) did not select any player to the Hall of Fame this year. It was the first time since 1960 that they did not select a player. A player needs 75% of the vote to make it to the Hall. Players have ten years of eligibility. They can gain entrance later if selected by a committee of former players.

There were three players on the ballot that had the best chance of getting selected. They are pitchers Curt Schilling and Roger Clemens. The other player is Barry Bonds. All three are in the ninth year of eligibility.

Schilling received 71% of the vote. He has asked the people at the Hall of Fame to remove him from the ballot next year. He claims that he is willing to take his chances with the players’ committee. The Hall is considering his request. Many people think that Schilling didn’t get the 75% required for entrance due to his political views.

Schilling holds extreme right-wing positions. Many people were shocked that he allegedly made remarks supporting the people who attacked and vandalized the Capitol on January 6th, 2021.

The Hall of Fame vote took place before the attack but might affect the vote later this year. The Hall of Fame is a museum. Many people in the Hall have character less than sterling. The Hall voters have to vote on the players’ performance. Is Schilling worthy enough to be in the Hall? He won 219 games in his career.

Schilling is a three-time World Champion. He won one with the Arizona Diamondbacks and two with the Boston Red Sox. His courage and fortitude on the mound can not be questioned. His performance in game six of the 2004 AL Championship series is legendary. He beat the Yankees to send the series to game seven. The Red Sox won that game and then beat the St Louis Cardinal to win the World Series for the first time in 86 years.

Roger Clemens won over 350 games with the Red Sox, Toronto Blue Jays, New York Yankees, and Houston Astros. He won seven Cy Young Awards as the best pitcher in the American League. His numbers should mean induction into the Hall.

The fly in the ointment is the claim that he, allegedly, used performance enhancing drugs. Clemens never failed a drug test. He received about 61 % of the vote last year and about the same this year. His chances of getting in next year are slim. He will have to wait until later.

Barry Bonds was one of the best hitters ever to put on a uniform to play baseball. Bonds won the National League’s Most Valuable Player Award seven times. No other player in Major League history has won it more than three times.

Bonds holds the single-season record for most home runs with 73. He broke Henry Aaron’s record of 755 homers in a career in 2007. He finished his career with 762. Bonds, like Clemens, never failed a drug test. He, too, had to deal with accusations that he used performance-enhancing drugs.

There may be people in the Hall that used steroids to help them hit or pitch. Many voters are not willing to vote for players that “cheated.” Some voters are willing to say that Clemens and Bonds using steroids during those years was not illegal.

Attendance at baseball games dropped after the player’s strike in 1994. The teams’ owners looked the other way when Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa sent balls flying out of the parks in 1998. McGwire finished with 70, and Sosa had 66. Clemens and Bonds will have to wait. They have the numbers for entrance. Many people believe they should be included. Only time will tell.

Jerry Feitelberg is an Oakland A’s beat writer for http://www.sportsradioservice.com

That’s Amaury’s News and Commentary podcast: Pete Rose How do you like me now?

washingtonpost.com file photo circa 1989: Former Cincinnati Reds manager Pete Rose is questioned over betting on baseball in the Reds dugout before a game in 1989 at Riverfront Stadium

Pete Rose: How do You Like me Now?

That’s Amaury News and Commentary

Amaury Pi-González

Amid the controversy over the sign-stealing scandal,which followed the steroids-era,it is fair to say that Peter Edward Rose,also known as “Charlie Hustle”, Pete Rose, who played in Major League Baseball from 1963 to 1986, might be “looking good” today. Rose hit 4,256 hits more than any other player. He gambled but only on his own team winning as a manager. Ty Cobb ended second in hits with 4,191 and nobody alive today is close to 4,000 hits.

The question today: Is it time to let Pete Rose into Cooperstown? I believe so. I know baseball ultimate sin is gambling, and there are lots of degenerate gamblers all over, many go to Las Vegas to bet on baseball games,but nobody has 4,256 hits. Charlie Hustle was always on base, played for 24 Years (10 of those years 200 plus hits) 3,562 Games,15,890 Plate Appearances,14,053 at Bats. Only one season he struck out over 100 times. Total strike outs for Rose in those 24 seasons:1,143. This strike out category is very similar to Ted Williams and Joe Dimaggio, two of the greatest pure hitters in history. I will render my verdict at the end, the way I see it as if I was a juror.

Twenty-nine years have gone-by since 1991 when the Baseball Hall of Fame formally voted to ban those “permanently ineligible” list from induction. Those players were previously excluded by informal agreement among voters. Pete Rose admitted in 2004 that he bet on baseball and on the Reds. The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum and Major League Baseball are two different entities. However (as of today) the Hall of Fame states that no one on Major League Baseball’s ineligible list can be inducted into Cooperstown. So this means Pete Rose is out.

Hypocrisy? MLB has changed their attitude toward gambling. On November 27,2018 they announced that MGM had become its “official gaming partner”. I know people that bet on different legal sites in the US, the Fantasy Draft attracts a lot of sports betting fans, they have fantasy players on their list and is very popular, specially with the younger crowd of fans. And isn’t that what MLB wants? To bring young people back to baseball?

If it sounds confusing, mixed signals. It is. At the end is baseball that will have to deal with this,with the changes in the culture we live in. I do not have the answer.That is for the “moral philosophers” out there that examine the nature of ethics and foundation of good and back character in our society. Not to mention we are now in the robotic era and social media.

One last question, before my verdict. What stops somebody that stole signs from betting on those games they knew they had the edge?

My verdict: Put Pete Rose in the Hall of Fame, as a player and put an asterisk on his plaque as a manager. And stop fooling yourselves.

Hasta la Vista!