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ORLANDO CEPEDA : Following His Conviction for Importation and Possession of Marijuana, This Former Major-League Baseball Player Has a Home Based in Burbank and Life Based on Buddhism

January 21, 1985|STEVE SPRINGER | Times Staff Writer

"I cried when it (his arrest) happened. I cry today, too, but my eyes are wet because I see him help children. I see him spend hours with his kids, enjoying himself. He does not have a lot now, but whatever he has, he is happy with. He doesn't have the money he had in the past, but he has something that comes from inside."

There is sentiment in Puerto Rico for Cepeda to return, say some of his friends.

"They should not close the doors. They should give him a chance," said Houston Astro infielder Dickie Thon, a Puerto Rican native. "Let him show people he really means good, maybe in the way he works with kids."

Regalado said there "should have been opportunity for a man who still loves Puerto Rico, his country. But I think if he comes back now, they are going to receive him, going to treat him different."

Said Mayoral: "Billy Martin is not perfect, but everybody gives him another chance. Why not give Orlando another chance?

"But I think people are beginning to realize he is a human being. People are beginning to feel he should be given another opportunity. I think now, since he has struggled, he would be of more good to humanity. To me, he is like a living monument. I miss him. I think about him a lot. I would be happy if he came back. I can't deny it."

When the chanting is finished, Cepeda addresses the group, relating how his life has improved through Buddhism. He is cheered by the others in the room.

"The best friends I have are the ones I have met after my career was over," he said. "They know me as a human being, not as a ballplayer."

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