St. Louis Cardinals

Family says Hall of Famer Cepeda showing 'major signs of improvement'

Orlando Cepeda waves to Busch Stadium fans during a 50th anniversary celebration of the 1967 World Series championship.
Orlando Cepeda waves to Busch Stadium fans during a 50th anniversary celebration of the 1967 World Series championship.

The San Francisco Giants issued a statement Monday thanking fans for their concern for Orlando Cepeda, who last Monday was rushed to a Bay Area hospital after an apparent heart attack.

They also reported that the 80-year-old Hall of Famer is making daily improvements in his recovery. According to his family, Cepeda is showing "major signs of improvement," the San Jose Mercury News reports.

"The Cepeda family would like to thank the baseball family for its concern and well wishes for Orlando," the Giants' statement read. "We are pleased to report that Orlando continues to make significant progress every day and is showing major signs of improvement. Please continue to keep him in your thoughts and prayers."

Cepeda, who won the National League Most Valuable Player Award as a member of the St. Louis Cardinals in 1967, was rushed from Rancho Solano Golf Course in Fairfield, California, to a nearby hospital. The Giants later confirmed that Cepeda had suffered a "cardiac incident" and was listed in critical condition throughout last week.

A unanimous choice for National League Rookie of the Year in 1958, Cepeda spent nine of his big league seasons with the Giants, whose fans know him also at the "Baby Bull."

He was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals in 1966 for former 20-game winner Ray Sakecki, in 1966. The team quickly took on his personality, winning consecutive National League pennants in 1967 and '68. The Cardinals were known during the era as the El Birdos and Cepeda was called "Cha-Cha."

The 1967 World Series championship and unanimous Most Valuable Player selection were the only of his career.

When he was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1999, Cepeda was just the second Puerto Rican player to be enshrined. Roberto Clemente is the other.

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