By 1973, few fans would have argued against the general consensus that Orlando Cepeda was washed up at 35.
They were wrong.
Yes, the 16-year veteran, plagued by injuries and age over the past couple of seasons, would have likely hung up his spikes by then if not for the American League’s new designated hitter position that gave new life to aging sluggers.
But Cepeda’s signing with the Boston Red Sox paid immediate dividends when he blossomed as a full-time DH.
On this day in béisbol, Aug. 8, 1973, the Ponce, Puerto Rico native known as “The Baby Bull” tied an MLB record held by many with four doubles in one game that powered the Sox to a 9-4 win over the Royals in Kansas City. He went 4-for-5 with 6 RBI and made a winner out of Red Sox righty Luis Tiant.
The 1973 season would prove to be Cepeda’s last hurrah, though. He finished strong with 20 HR, 86 RBI and a .289 average — his best year since 1970 — and even got a few MVP votes.
But he would retire the next year after a short stint with the Royals and have to wait until 1999 to make into the Hall of Fame.
— Robert Dominguez
Robert Dominguez is co-author of “Bronx Bummers: The Unofficial History of the New York Yankees’ Bad Boys, Blunders and Brawls” and writer of the upcoming “El Salón: The Trials and Triumphs of Baseball’s Latino Hall of Famers.”