When Baseball Hall of Famer Orlando Cepeda Was Busted for 'Grass'

Orlando Cepeda — 1937-2024 (via La Vida Baseball)

Orlando Cepeda, the second Puerto Rican player to be inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame, passed away on June 28. He was 86.

In addition to his 17-year career with five teams, during which he batted .297 with 379 home runs and 1,365 RBI, was the National League's Rookie of the Year in 1958 and MVP in 1967, the year he won the World Series with the St. Louis Cardinals as first baseman, Cepeda was known for his post-career activities that included several drug arrests and prison time.

In 1975, while in Colombia, Cepeda unwittingly agreed to bring two boxes back to Puerto Rican that contained 170 pounds of marijuana worth $66,000. Several weeks later he was arrested at San Juan Airport when he attempted to collect the boxes. At the trial in 1978, Cepeda was found guilty and sentenced to five years in jail; he served 10 months in a Puerto Rican jail and the rest on probation. 

Cepeda was arrested again in 2007 in California and charged with possessing marijuana, cocaine and methamphetamine.

Due to these arrests he wasn't inducted into the Hall of Fame until 1999.

A 1985 Los Angeles Times article said Cededa began smoking pot in 1965 when he was with his first team, the San Francisco Giants. In 1975, Cepeda had explained:

“I used to smoke grass. I was going through hell with my knees, problems with my first wife and was being accused of not wanting to play ball. Somebody gave me a joint and I felt great.”

For years Cepeda was shunned in Puerto Rico and by Major League Baseball. Then, In 1987, he started working with the Giants again and was welcomed back by MLB. 

Cepeda told the Times then:

"Everybody makes a mistake. It’s history. I can be of value to any community. A lot of people address drug problems, but they have never suffered. I suffered. I never look back, but because of what happened to me, I should not be put in a corner to die. I’ve got a lot to offer. I can be a big help to people with drug problems.”

Roberto Clemente (from Puerto Rico) was the first Latino players to be inducted in the Hall of Fame. The others are Juan Marachial (Domincan Republic), Luis Aparicio (Venezuela), Rod Carew (Panama) and Tony Perez (Cuba). Adrian Beltre (DR) will be inducted in July. 



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Steve Bloom

Steve Bloom

Publisher of CelebStoner.com, former editor of High Times and Freedom Leaf and co-author of Pot Culture and Reefer Movie Madness.