Cepeda arrested, not charged, after drugs are found

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Hall of Famer Orlando Cepeda was arrested after a California Highway Patrol officer pulled him over for speeding and discovered drugs in the car.

Cepeda, 69, was arrested on suspicion of felony possession of a controlled substance, along with possession of a hypodermic needle or syringe and possession of marijuana, both misdemeanors. He has not been charged, and the Solano County District Attorney's office declined to comment on his arrest.

The former San Francisco Giants star was stopped about 3 p.m. Tuesday after his 2001 Lexus was clocked going 83 mph in a 65 mph
zone on Interstate 80 in Cordelia, about 40 miles northeast of San Francisco, the CHP said.

While approaching the vehicle, "the officer smelled the odor of marijuana coming from the car," CHP Sgt. Wulf Corrington said Wednesday.

The CHP officer arrested Cepeda after finding a "usable" amount of a white-powder substance that likely was methamphetamine or cocaine, Corrington said. The officer also found marijuana and a syringe, he added.

"The arresting officer did not see visible signs of intoxication or being under the influence," Corrington said.

Ted Cassman, a Berkeley attorney representing Cepeda, said the former slugger was innocent.

"He does not use, and was not under the influence of, any illegal substance," Cassman said late Wednesday in a telephone interview. "This is an unfortunate misunderstanding, and we intend to meet promptly with the authorities to explain that Orlando was not responsible for any illegal substance in the car."

Cassman said the marijuana was medical marijuana used by a family member who has diabetes. Asked about the white powder, Cassman said he had no specific comment.

"It follows within the statement that he wasn't responsible for any illegal substance in the car," he added.

Cepeda works for the Giants as a community liaison and speaks to at-risk children about the dangers of drugs and alcohol. Giants spokeswoman Staci Slaughter said the team did not have a comment about his arrest.

A message left on Cepeda's phone wasn't returned Wednesday night.

Cepeda, alone at the time of the arrest, was booked and released from the Solano County Jail on Tuesday, Corrington said. Bail had been set at $12,600, according to the Solano County Jail log.

After his playing career ended, Cepeda was convicted in 1976 in San Juan, Puerto Rico, of smuggling marijuana and sentenced to five years in prison.

That conviction was probably one reason he was not elected to the Hall of Fame by the Baseball Writers' Association of America. Cepeda eventually was elected by the Veterans Committee in 1999.

A first baseman during his 17 big league seasons, Cepeda started his career with the Giants and moved on to St. Louis, Atlanta, Oakland, Boston and Kansas City.

A seven-time All-Star who played in three World Series, Cepeda was known as "Baby Bull" and "Cha-Cha." He was the 1958 NL Rookie of the Year with San Francisco and the NL MVP in 1967 with St. Louis. In 1961, he led the National League with 46 home runs and 142 RBIs.

Cepeda was a .297 career hitter with 379 home runs and 1,365 RBIs.