Bah! I guess getting Bill James’ O.J. Simpson Award one season just wasn’t enough.
But before Jeff Bagwell, there was another Astros who was just as good, and possibly better, at all facets of the game. His name was Cesar Cedeno. Cedeno played on the team from 1970 through 1981, and at times, I think he has been a forgotten player to the majority of Astros fans. Of course, when Cedeno played, the team was mostly one of the worst in the majors and there were very, very few fans attending games in the Astrodome.
...Yet Cedeno is not much celebrated in Astros lore. Part of the reason for that is probably derived from the fact he did not live up to the huge hype he was hit with early in his career. Leo Durocher, who was one of Cedeno’s first managers, said Cedeno was the next Willie Mays, and that carried a lot of weight seeing as how Durocher had been Mays’ first major league manager. But after his first several seasons, Cedeno’s numbers began to drop, particularly his power numbers.
Cedeno also created many of his own problems. He was charged with the involuntary manslaughter of his mistress in December, 1973. Dominican authorities gave him a sentence of 20 days and a small fine. He suffered problems with his temper while playing, such as the brawl with Ray Knight on July 4, 1979 after Knight challenged the Astros to a fight. In 1981, after striking out during a game in Atlanta, he charged into the stands and fought a fan who was calling him a killer. And after his career, he continued to suffer brushes with the law caused by his temper, including more violence issues with girlfriends.
...And while Cedeno’s currently a hitting coach for the Astros’ Rookie League team in Greeneville, it would be nice to see the team find some way to honor him in Houston and give him his due. Sure he’s had his on and off-field difficulties, but so have Roger Clemens and Jeff Bagwell. Cedeno’s never going to the Baseball Hall of Fame, but that doesn’t mean he should remain a forgotten figure in the city where he played for most of his career.
Posted: July 09, 2012 at 08:48 AM | 7 comment(s)
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