contractor, baseball standout dies
Longtime contractor, baseball standout dies By JOHN NORTON | email@example.com The Pueblo Chieftain | 0 comments
A star athlete in high school who just missed a chance to play in the major leagues but built a business and raised a family here instead, died Saturday.
A memorial service is scheduled at 1:30 p.m. today at the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart for John Ceplo, owner of Ceplo Homes and a former pitcher for the Pueblo Dodgers.
Born in Montrose, N.Y., Ceplo lettered in four sports in high school and was recruited by the Brooklyn Dodgers.
His daughter, Karen Archuletta, said that he played minor league baseball for a number of teams but made his home in Pueblo.
Baseball-Reference.com shows Ceplo beginning his career in 1951 in Billings, Mont., and moving to Lancaster, Pa., in 1952 and Newport News, Va., in 1953. He played for Pueblo in 1954 and 1955, split the 1956 season between St. Paul, Minn., and Montreal and then moved to Fort Worth, Texas, in 1957.
During his time in Pueblo, Ceplo played alongside future major leaguers Maury Wills, Red Witt, Rene Valdes, Ralph Muriello, Jim Gentile and Sparky Anderson, a member of the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
It was here that he and a number of other players rented space in the attic of a home owned by Clarence Bellinger. Ceplo met Bellinger’s stepdaughter, Patricia Anne Donahue, and the two later were married and were the parents of Archuletta, John Ceplo and daughter Christine Craig.
His son said that after seven years waiting for a break into the majors, his dad became frustrated and decided to end his sports career. Family members said that he had been offered a contract by the Giants, who like his own parent team, was moving to the West Coast, but the Dodgers wouldn’t release him even though his son said they had been moving up other pitchers with higher earned-run averages.
Growing up in New York, the elder Ceplo had worked with his father in construction and took on jobs during the off-season in Pueblo. Upon his retirement from the mound, he found it easy to get work with local builders and in the early 1960s formed his own general contracting firm.
Archuletta said that her father developed a good reputation. “He would go overboard for customers,” she said. “People working for him, would say, ‘Your dad’s just too nice.’ ’’
Ceplo’s firm built individual houses and entire subdivisions, along with the Colorado Lottery building and horse barns at the State Fair and the Beulah entrance portal and did upgrades at the Pueblo Mall.
He is survived by his wife, daughters and son. His son continues to run the firm. George McCarthy Funeral Home is handling the arrangements.