Saturday, July 19, 2014

1973 Topps Orlando Cepeda

A few posts back I remade the 1973 Topps Hal McRae card. I showed him in a Royals uniform and made his position "Designated Hitter". This was not one of the positions choices available in the 1973 set but it really should have been. Especially in the later series. While McRae was primarily a DH throughout his career, in 1973 the Royals used the DH position the way it is commonly used now. Most teams rotate their DH among a few players, using it to give them a rest. 

But that was not the case with Orlando Cepeda. He played DH in the very first game in the AL in 1973 along with Ron Blomberg. Blomberg's first at-bat was in the top of the 1st. Cepeda's was in the bottom of the 2nd. But Cepeda played in 142 games in 1973, every one of them at DH. Blomberg played 100 games for the Yankees in 1973, 56 of them at DH. 

Cepeda's 1973 card shows him as a 1st baseman for the A's. He never played in the field for the A's. He pinch hit in 3 games going 0 for 3 in 1972. The Red Sox signed him one week after the American League approved DH rule for the sole purpose of using him at DH. Cepeda delivered. He hit a respectable .289 with 20 homers and 86 RBIs and he played in more games than he did in the last 2 seasons combined. This card was from the final series of 1973 by which time I would think that Topps could have (A) recognized the existence of the DH, and/or (B) acknowledged a trade that took place in January.

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