What's with Orlando Cepeda, we'd been wondering, since his conviction a year ago of smuggling marijuana into Puerto Rico? Now we know: he hasn't begun serving the pronounced prison sentence of five years (plus $10,000 fine), but it's hanging in front of him with a judge in Boston expected to rule on his appeal Feb. 19.
Cepeda, 1967 National League MVP as a slugging St. Louis first baseman, was batting bust in the '67 Series won by the Cardinals over Boston, then came back in the '68 Series vs. Detriot to hit a couple of homers and lead the Cards with six RBI. But the man of that hour was Tiger lefthander Mickey Lolich - sinner of three games including the seventh overr Bob Gibson - and that worthy's name likewise pops out of nowhere today:
Lolich, a 207-game winner in 13 Detriot campaigns, had a sour 1976 as a Met, then retired from baseball rather than stay in New York another year. But his agent, attorney Bob Fenton of Detriot, says we can expect an anouncement this week "that we're going to enter into an agreement" - presumably on a big-league comeback.
Fenton said he had talked with the Pittsburgh Pirates, California Angels and another club, all expressing interest in signing Lolich. If, at 37, he can make the switch to the bullpen, for instance, Lord knows the Pirates are desperate for relief since losing Terry Forster and Rich Gossage to re-entry. Or are the portly one and friend pulling our leg - he's only moving up form the Romeo, Mich., slow-pitch softball team he toiled for last year to the Detriot Caesars or somebody in the big time - American Pro Slo-Pich League? . . .
But Cepeda, 40, remains a sad story. A hero in his native Puerto Rico since costarring with Willie Mays on the San Francisco Giants, he is shunned by his countrymen since his drug conviction involving 160 pounds of pot. His friends are scorned. His mother and brother receive humiliating phone calls at night. He was asked to quit helping the baseball team on which his son Orlando Jr., 11, plays. The island newspapers turned against him.
"That kills me," the old Baby Bull told the Miami News. "I don't drink; for years, I give of myself to charities. But, now . . . At one time they gave me a fortune for baseball clinics. Now they worry what people will think."
Last week Cepeda took Orlando Jr. to the stadium in Bayamon to see a Puerto Rico winter league playoff but, sensing that verbal abuse might be coming, he left before the game. A reporter who asked to have him paged was told, "If we mention his name, the people will boo loudly" . . .
Another old World Series name won't stay away - Mike Andrewa. Yep, the second baseman out of baseball since Charlie Finley sacked him from the A's in the middle of the 1973 Oakland-Mets classic. Finley flew off the handle after Andrews made two errors in a 12-minute defeat, then claimed the team doctor found him "injured". Andrews' subsequent $2.5 million lawsuit against A's Finley and Dr. Harry Walker is still alive, in fact went to trial Wednesday. Andrews, 34, now sells life insurance in Boston . . .
Another Finley case, Vida Blue, who has kept quiet through all the A's-Blue-reds-Bowie Kuhn mishmash - partly, it's said, because of his pending damage suit against Charlie O. for signing him to a three-year contract, then promptly trying to sell him in June 1976 - finally speaks, minimally: "The things I could put into words wouldn't even begin to express my feelings." The lefthander discounts the possibility the deal might be reworked to Kuhn's liking and sounds just about resigned to another contract year, plus option year, with the A's - Cincinnati isn't going to do it. Bowie is going to screw around. (The Reds) can't afford to sacrifice a lot."
Oh, you say that could be Denver, and new owner Marvin Davis, holding Blue's contract? Maybe. After talks among Oakland Coliseum official Robert Nahas, the American and National league presidents, Kuhn, the mayor of San Franciso, the Giants, et al., Davis said in New York yesterday he will "keep the door ajar" for a sale and A's move to Colorado Next, Finley meets today wuwth Nahas, and the word is that San Francisco city officaldom is about to allow the Giants to play osme games - perhaps 25 or 30 - in Oakland in return for the A's being released from their long-term lease, to make it a one-team Bay Area.