Friday, January 20, 2012

DAHOF Top 100 -- #64 Cesar Cedeño

When it really gets down to it... Cesar Cedeño is at least half reason for my unhealthy dedication for those delicious 1970's Houston Astros tequila sunrise uniforms. He was a great player when I first started following baseball and his appearance (along with several of his teammates) in the 2nd Bad News Bears movie secured his spot in my Top 100.

When Leo Durocher took over as manager for the last 31 games of the 1972 season - he dubbed his 22 year old center fielder, as "the next Willie Mays." This was high praise considering that Leo managed and served as a father-figure for the "real Willie Mays" for many years. The truth is Cedeño never came close to reaching Leo's expectations, but considering no one other major league player has ever been able to match the incomparable Willie Mays, he was pretty darn good ballplayer.

He came up to the majors at age 19 and established himself as a big star early in his career, hitting over .310 in three of his first four years for the Astros.

Possessing the magic combo of power, speed, and good defense, Cesar became the second man in Major League history (after Lou Brock in 1967) to hit 20 home runs and steal 50 bases in one season. Cedeño accomplished the feat three years in a row (1972-1974), while playing home games in the notoriously pitcher-friendly Astrodome. He also stole 50-plus bases the next three years (1975-1977), twice led the league in doubles (1971-1972) and collected 102 RBI in 1974. He also won five consecutive Gold Glove Awards (1972-1976), appeared in four All-Star Games (1972-1974, 1976).


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