COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. – He had been the backbone of the St. Louis Cardinals’ mini-dynasty for three years, adding to his Hall of Fame resume with a Most Valuable Player Award, two National League pennants and a World Series ring.But this week 41 years ago, the Cardinals traded Orlando Cepeda for future MVP – and soon-to-be legendary manager – Joe Torre. It was a trade that benefited both teams.
Cepeda was sent to the Atlanta Braves on March 17, 1969, in exchange for Torre – a swap that featured players with a combined 12 All-Star Game selections. It had been a fantastic three-year run for Cepeda in St. Louis following a brilliant eight-plus year stay with the Giants in San Francisco.In his first full year in St. Louis in 1967, Cepeda hit .325 with a National League-best 111 RBIs en route to a unanimous win in the NL Most Valuable Player voting. The Cardinals won the World Series that fall, and in 1968 repeated their NL pennant before losing to the Tigers in the World Series.The Spring Training trade, however, brought Torre – three years younger and a player with the versatility to play at first base or behind the plate. Torre stayed with the Cardinals for six seasons, winning the 1971 NL MVP and earning his way onto four All-Star teams. Cepeda, meanwhile, helped the Braves win the first-ever National League West title in 1969 by hitting 22 home runs and driving in 88 runs. A year later, he was even better – hitting 34 homers while driving in 111 runs. Cepeda retired after the 1974 season and was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1999. Torre was dealt to the Mets following the 1974 season, then became the Mets’ manager in 1977.Entering the 2010 season, Torre’s Mets, Braves, Cardinals, Yankees and Dodgers have posted a record of 2,246-1915 (.540), including 13 division titles, six American League pennants and four World Series championships.Craig Muder is the director of communications for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum