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Cepeda Can Go Home, He’s Looking Forward To Weekend…"Tito" Unretiring… Boricua Pop Arrives…Dragonfly Too Top Nightspot

Cepeda Can Go Home: An Honor On Giants' Visit To Puerto Rico

Henry Schulman, Chronicle Staff Writer

May 18, 2004
Copyright © 2004 THE SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE. All rights reserved.

Chicago -- Hall of Famer Orlando Cepeda will make a bittersweet journey to his native Puerto Rico this weekend when the Giants visit San Juan to play three games against the Montreal Expos. The news that his first major-league team would make the trek brought mixed feelings.

"I was very pleased," Cepeda said, "but I was also sad because when I played ball, Pittsburgh came to San Juan with Roberto Clemente, and the Yankees visited, too. I thought that someday I could come to my country and play ball with the Giants. Unfortunately, it never happened."

The flailing Giants open a three-game series against Dusty Baker and the Cubs at Wrigley Field tonight, then embark on the 2,000-mile journey to San Juan, where the Expos have played a portion of their schedule for the past two seasons because of poor attendance in Montreal.

The games will be played at 19,000-seat Hiram Bithorn Stadium, named for a pioneering Puerto Rican baseball player, a place Cepeda knows well. He played winter ball there, for the Santurce Crabbers, from 1962 to 1975. He had to do so.

"It was an obligation," Cepeda said. "I did play for the money and to stay in shape because in those days, we didn't have the facilities we have now. We didn't have money to hire trainers. The only way to stay in shape was to play winter ball. But if you didn't play, they called you a traitor, a non- Puerto Rican. They said, 'You've got to be proud to be a Puerto Rican.' Clemente used to play, too."

With Benito Santiago's departure, the Giants have no Puerto Ricans on their roster for the first time in many years. So the focus this weekend will be on Cepeda, who will have a statue of his likeness dedicated at a new sports museum in San Juan. Heck, even if Santiago still were here, the focus would have been on Cepeda, whose name resonates with islanders like Mays and DiMaggio do here.

Cepeda's father was Pedro "Perucho" Cepeda. The Bull - a baseball legend whose career will be marked at the museum as well. In Puerto Rico, Orlando Cepeda is known as Peruchin, the Baby Bull.

Manager Felipe Alou has been asked to introduce Cepeda at the ceremony and said he would be honored.

"I would love to do that," Alou said. "Orlando Cepeda is my brother. I have many, many brothers and he's one of them because we've known each other before we were 20."

Alou has a small connection to Puerto Rican baseball as well. He always managed winter ball in his native Dominican Republic, but in 1985, agreed to manage the Puerto Rican team in Caguas, which was affiliated with the Expos, because the skipper in place pulled out because of a family emergency.

"We won like we did here last year," Alou recalled. "From the beginning to the end, we won the regular season, then we lost in the first round of the playoffs.

"This is important, because on that team still going to high school were Roberto Alomar and Bernie Williams. Those kids used to get out from school and come to the games. Sometimes they were late. You could really tell those guys were going to be good players."

Puerto Rico used to be Giants country because so many players from San Francisco went there in the winter, guys such as Cepeda, Ruben Gomez, Jose Pagan and Willie Montañez. The Santurce owner, Pedrine Zorrilla, was friends with longtime Giants owner Horace Stoneham, who sent many Giants to play for the Crabbers.

That has changed now that so many Puerto Ricans have starred for so many big-league teams. Montreal's Jose Vidro is a fan favorite. So is Alomar. But baseball fans are baseball fans, and those in Puerto Rico are looking forward to the Giants' visit for the same reason they do in Cincinnati, Pittsburgh and Atlanta.

"They want to see Barry Bonds," Cepeda said. "The whole island is very excited about it."

And Cepeda is very excited about his statue, a gesture that would have been impossible 10 or 15 years ago. For many years, his name was mud in Puerto Rico because of a 1975 federal conviction for drug trafficking. Cepeda smuggled some marijuana at a friend's behest, he said.

It was a mistake that cost Cepeda 10 months in a federal prison and, perhaps more damning, the respect of his countrymen, who thought the Baby Bull brought disrepute to the entire island by his actions. For many years, the mere mention of Cepeda's name could incite violent reactions.

Time, in this case, did heal the wounds. His election into Cooperstown in 1999 was celebrated in Puerto Rico.

"After I came to the states and I started working with the Giants, that really helped me," he said. "In 1993, I was elected into the Puerto Rican Hall of Fame. It took a long time because Puerto Ricans are very hard to forgive. But they have been much, much, much better since I was elected into the (baseball's) Hall of Fame."

Cepeda Looking Forward To Weekend

May 16, 2004
Copyright © 2004 Contra Costa Times. All rights reserved.

The Baby Bull will be with the Giants when they visit Puerto Rico

It won't serve as a substitution for a dream never realized, but it will have to suffice for Orlando Cepeda.

Cepeda longed for the day when he could play in his native Puerto Rico in an exhibition game, wearing a Giants uniform.

It was not to be.

However, when the Giants play a three-game series against the Montreal Expos at Hiram Bithorn Stadium in San Juan, Puerto Rico, beginning Friday night, Cepeda will be there, smiling widely.

"Every year, teams used to go there, all the big-league teams, and I used to say to myself, 'Man, it would be great if I played in Puerto Rico with a Giants uniform. And it never happened.' To me, it's great because they know the Giants in Puerto Rico because of myself, Jose Pagan, the Alou brothers and Juan Marichal."

The three games are sold out, Cepeda said. The city will unveil a statue of him hitting in front of the Puerto Rico Sports Museum on Friday, and he is expected to throw out the first pitch. Cepeda also did the honors in 2001 for the first regular-season game played there.

Cepeda is widely considered the greatest living player from the island. After hitting .297 with 379 home runs and 1,364 RBI during his 17-year career (eight with the Giants), he was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1999.

In 1959, he was the first Puerto Rican-born player to appear in an All-Star Game. Cepeda was nicknamed the "Baby Bull," in deference to his father, Pedro "Perucho" Cepeda, who was known as the "Bull" or the "Babe Ruth of the Caribbean."

"We played a lot of baseball back then," Cepeda said. "In my case, my father was a baseball player, a good one. I grew up in baseball. Baseball was the No. 1 sport then."

Cepeda's father died before he made his debut with the Giants in 1958.

Cepeda recalled major-league and Negro League teams playing exhibition games against his father's team.

"He ran like a bull and he played hard," Cepeda said. "He faced the Yankees one day in 1948 and he went 4-for-4. He played against Satchel Paige and Josh Gibson. They used to come to my house when I was a kid. Jackie Robinson played in Puerto Rico, too."

The refurbished stadium in Puerto Rico seats 19,000 and is named in honor of Hiram Bithorn, the first Puerto Rican to play in the major leagues. He made his debut with the Chicago Cubs in 1942. Luis Olmo and Vic Power, also Puerto Rican born, played in the majors before Cepeda debuted in '58.

Cepeda talks proudly of Puerto Rico -- "There are a lot of beautiful beaches, a lot of beautiful women; you're going to love it there" -- but he becomes downcast when discussing the state of baseball on the island. The winter leagues are lacking, and there isn't the same passion there once was for the sport, he said.

"We used to play there, myself and (Roberto) Clemente," he said. "We used to play winter ball every year because we needed the money. They used to get on people for not playing there. Now, because they make so much money, they don't play, guys like Ivan Rodriguez, Juan Gonzalez and (Roberto) Alomar. Nobody plays, so the quality is way down. I'm sad."

"Tito" Unretiring

Wire Services

May 16, 2004
Copyright © 2004. All rights reserved.

Felix "Tito" Trinidad will come out of retirement to fight former welterweight champion Ricardo Mayorga on Oct. 2.

Trinidad hasn't fought in two years.

Trinidad retired one fight after he was stopped by Bernard Hopkins in a middleweight title unification fight in September 2001. He has said for months he planned to return to the ring, but a series of opponents fell through.

Oscar De La Hoya wanted to fight Trinidad in a rematch of the 1999 fight Trinidad won by decision, but said he couldn't get him interested. Trinidad was going to fight Shane Mosley, but then Mosley lost to Winky Wright.

Boricua Pop: Puerto Ricans and the Latinization of American Culture Arrives in Puerto Rico

May 19, 2004
Copyright © 2004. All rights reserved.

(Río Piedras) This coming May 27, 2004, writer, filmmaker and scholar Frances Negrón-Muntaner will be at La Tertulia to be part of the presentation of her latest book Boricua Pop: Puerto Ricans and the Latinization of American Culture. Writer and scholar Felix Jimenez, author of Vieques y la Prensa, will present the book.

Boricua Pop: Puerto Ricans and the Latinization of American Culture is the first book solely devoted to Puerto Rican visibility, cultural impact, and identity formation in the U.S. and at home. Frances Negrón-Muntaner explores everything from the beloved American musical West Side Story to the phenomenon of singer/actress/fashion designer Jennifer Lopez, from the faux historical chronicle Seva to the creation of Puerto Rican Barbie, from novelist Rosario Ferré to performer Holly Woodlawn, and from painter Jean-Michel Basquiat to the seemingly overnight success story of Ricky Martin. Negrón-Muntaner traces some of the many possible itineraries of exchange between American and Puerto Rican cultures, including the commodification of Puerto Rican cultural practices such as voguing, graffiti, and the Latinization of pop music.

Drawing from literature, film, painting, and popular culture, and including both the normative and the odd, the canonized authors and the misfits, the island and its diaspora, Boricua Pop is a fascinating blend of low life and high culture: a highly original, challenging, and lucid new work by one of our most talented cultural critics.

Frances Negrón-Muntaner is an award-winning filmmaker, writer, and scholar. She is the co-editor of Puerto Rican Jam and author of Anatomy of a Smile. She currently teaches at Columbia University and lives in New York City.

La Tertulia is located at Avenida Ponce de León 1002.

For Immediate Release

Contact: Maggie de la Cuesta, 305-519-3372

La Tertulia, 787-765-1148

Dragonfly Too, Top Nightspot

CP Wire

May 15, 2004
Copyright © 2004 Winnipeg Free Press. All rights reserved.

Looking for a chic bar in Shanghai or a cutting-edge club in Miami? The globe-trotting club-crawlers of Conde Nast Traveler have done your homework for you, producing a list of 30 hot nightspots around the world, from Boston to Beijing.

Recommendations include the Lusty Med-tini drink at the Med Grill, a Montreal supper club; Dragonfly Too, a late-night lounge in San Juan, Puerto Rico; the Vibes Club, a disco and art space in a converted factory in Beijing; the CJW (Cigar/Jazz/Wine) club on the top floor of the 50-storey Bund Centre in Shanghai; the glass bar and dance scene at the High Heels club in Cairo's Nile Hilton; the retro laid-back atmosphere at Trailer Happiness in London; the post-midnight crowd at La Suite on Avenue George V in Paris; and Berlin's Lola Lounge, with its "East German chic" decor.

If your party circuit plans don't include a passport, the list of best domestic nightspots includes live music at Jazz at Pearl's, in San Francisco; the shucked shellfish at B&G Oysters in Boston; and the Infiniti Room nightclub in the Le Méridien Art + Tech hotel in Minneapolis.

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