Wednesday, August 18, 2010

#337 Mike Cuellar

#337 Mike Cuellar
If you already knew that Mike Cuellar was once a St. Louis Cardinal, you're either old-school or you've done your homework.

Fun facts about Mike Cuellar:

-Born in Santa Clara, Cuba, Mike served in the Cuban Army under Batista and gained attention after pitching a no-hitter for a military team in 1955.

-The Reds signed him in 1957 and he made his major league debut at age 22 in 1959. He was hit hard in two games and shipped out.

-He spent several years pitching in Mexico and the minor leagues before the Cardinals acquired him and used him in the bullpen with middling results in 1964.

-Cuellar was traded to the Astros in 1965 and soon flourished as a starting pitcher, finishing second in the N.L. with a 2.22 ERA in 1966 and being named to the All-Star team the following year (16-10, 3.03 ERA, career-high 203 strikeouts).

-Houston shipped him to the Orioles for the 1969 season, receiving former Rookie of the Year Curt Blefary in return. The lefty entered a period of dominance, becoming the first Latin American Cy Young Award winner in his first year in the new league (he shared the award with Denny McLain). Cuellar was 23-11 for the Birds with a 2.38 ERA and continued his dominance in the postseason, allowing only four earned runs in 24 innings and earning Baltimore's only win in the five-game World Series.

-Though his ERA jumped to 3.48 in 1970, he led the league with 24 wins (against 8 losses) and 21 complete games. He struggled in his only ALCS start but also hit a grand slam to help his cause. In the World Series, he was shaky early but settled down and slammed the door on the Reds in the Game Five clincher.

-Mike was famously one of four 20-game winners on the 1971 O's. He was an All-Star for the second straight year and again completed 21 games. He notched another complete-game victory in the ALCS but lost both of his starts in the World Series, including a 2-1 heartbreaker in Game Seven.

-He continued to pitch effectively for Baltimore into his late thirties, including one last All-Star campaign in 1974 (22-10, 3.11 ERA, 20 CG). In all, he won 143 and lost 88 for the Orioles with a 3.18 ERA. He completed 133 of his 283 starts. He still ranks in the top five in team history in wins, strikeouts, complete games, and shutouts.

-After finally losing his touch in 1976, he bowed out with two ugly appearances for the Angels the next year. In parts of 15 seasons he was 185-130 with a 3.14 ERA over 2808 innings.

-Cuellar retired to Florida, where he occasionally assisted the Orioles as a pitching instructor. He died last April of stomach cancer at age 72.
#337 Mike Cuellar (back)


  1. That trade with the Astros really cemented those dominant Baltimore teams of that era. Its funny how the Angels always seemed to be the last stop of so many washed up veterans during the 60's and 70's!

  2. Brox- The Angels of that time were like the Orioles of the late 1990s and early 2000s.

  3. Pitchers of that era had a bit more personality and unique style. Cuellar was a great pitcher but he was also fun to watch.

  4. Indians manager said Cuellar's fastball couldn't black an eye from 10 feet. Cuellar's response, "Get his ass up there."
    Loved Cuellar and was sad to hear of his passing. He was wonderful.