Thursday, January 26, 2012

And Now, a Great Story About Orlando Cepeda, Which TCM Will Proceed to Ruin

The lecture The Common Man recounted yesterday was followed by a brief question and answer session, where Dr. Samuel Regalado, of the California State University, Stanislaus, told a story to illustrate how issues language and competitiveness became entwined in both the Latino and Asian-American games.

According to Regaldo, the Giants and the Reds were playing, with Orlando Cepeda on second base, Matty Alou hitting, and Joey Jay on the mound for the Reds. As Alou came up to bat, and in between pitches, Cepeda starts yelling advice at Alou in Spanish. Jay turned and yelled “Hey, don’t you speak any English?” At which point, Cepeda yelled back, “Sure! I think you’re a cocksucker! How’s that?”

That is a great story. Unfortunately, it’s not true. Or at least not as Dr. Regalado told it last night. Because in all the games that Joey Jay pitched for the Reds against the Giants between 1961 (Jay’s first year in Cincinnati) and 1965 (Alou’s last year in San Francisco), there was never a game where Cepeda was standing on second base and Matty Alou was hitting. That doesn’t mean it’s a total bust, however. There are a lot of ways the story could still have elements of truth in it, especially when we’re looking back through 50 years of fuzzy memories.

Joey Jay and Orlando Cepeda seem to be pretty solid elements of this story, so let’s work on the assumption that they were a part of whatever went down. Here are some possible variables:

He might have the wrong Alou.

There were three Alou brothers who all played for the Giants in this era, Matty, Jesus, and Felipe. Of the three, Matty got the least playing time. However, Felipe regularly batted immediately after Cepeda in the lineup, which seems promising.

Regalado also could have juxtaposed Cepeda and Matty Alou.

Alou tended to bat high in the lineup for the Giants, and could have been on 2B while Cepeda was the one at bat.

Cepeda or Alou might not have been on second base.

It’s possible that Cepeda or Alou could have been yelling from either 1B or 3B.

Jay might not have been with Cincinnati at the time.

Jay also pitched for the Braves from 1953-1955, from 1957-1960, and in 1966. Cepeda debuted in 1958, which gives us an additional four years to look through for Cepeda/Jay encounters.

OK, so based on that, The Common Man looked back through all of Joey Jay’s game logs on Baseball Reference, against the Giants from 1958-1966. Here are the nine situations, from seven separate games between Jay and the Giants that fit our scenario:

5/2/59Cepeda doubles in the 3rd, Felipe Alou grounds out.
8/11/60Cepeda singles in the 5th, Felipe Alou doubles.
8/11/60Cepeda singles in the 6th, Felipe Alou Ks.
9/24/61Matty Alou singles and takes 2nd in the 1st inning, Cepeda Ks.
4/22/62Cepeda doubles in Kuenn in the 6th, Felipe Alou flies out.
6/14/62Cepeda singles in the 5th, Felipe Alou GIDP 6-4-3.
6/26/62Matty Alou singles in the 1st, makes it to 3B, Cepeda fouls out.
6/26/62Matty Alou walks in the 7th, Cepeda Ks.
9/12/62Felipe Alou gets on via FC, goes to 2B on a McCovey single, Cepeda reaches on error.
If TCM had to guess, he’d put his money on the 1962 game where Cepeda doubled in Kuenn to bring up Felipe. It’s easy to mix up all those Alous, and that certainly seems like a situation where a frustrated Jay would erupt, and a triumphant Cepeda respond. It’s interesting that, except in one instance, Jay recovered to escape the inning without further damage. It would be great to get Regalado’s source to narrow down the actual game with more accuracy, because the story is too specific to be completely apocryphal, and too good to forget.


David said...

Great post! I love to see people look into these tracers and find alternatives. I don't think it ruins the stories. It just shows our fallibility. And I REALLY don't blame anyone for mixing up their Alous. Who doesn't do it?

Mike B said...

Isn't it also possible that the incident could have occurred in spring training, making it even more difficult to narrow down the specifics?

The Common Man said...

Really good thought, Mike. But it turns out that the Giants have trained in Arizona since 1947, while the Reds have only been there since 2009. In the 1960s, the Reds trained in Tampa.