Mike Cuellar

From Academic Kids

Miguel Angel Cuellar Santana (born May 8, 1937 in Santa Clara, Cuba), best known as Mike Cuellar (coo-Eh-yar), is a former Major League Baseball starting pitcher who played for the Cincinnati Redlegs (1959), St. Louis Cardinals (1964), Houston Astros (1965-68), Baltimore Orioles (1969-76) and California Angels (1977).

A clever left-handed pitcher with an excellent changeup, Cuellar was signed by Cincinnati as an amateur free agent in 1957. After 10-year of bouncing from team to team in the majors and the minors, finally he found a permanent job with the powerful Orioles in the 1969 season. That August 10, Cuellar's string of 35 straight batters retired in row is ended by Cesar Tovar, who also spoils Cuellar's no-hitter bid in a one-hit shutout against the Minnesota Twins. Cuellar finished his first Major League season with a record of 23-11, 182 strikeouts, 2.38 of earned run average, and shared the Cy Young Award with Denny McLain.

In 1970-71 Cuellar went for 24-8, 190, 3.48, and 20-9, 124, 3.08. By this time he was part of a strong pitching staff, forming with Jim Palmer and Dave McNally one of the finest rotations ever. The trio combined for eight 20-win seasons in three years (1969-71), racking up a combined 188-72 (.723) record, while the rest of the staff was 130-92 (.586). As a added value, in 1971 Pat Dobson posted a 20-8 season record, being part of the Orioles' "The Big Four" 20-game winners along with Cuellar, McNally and Palmer. Only one other team in MLB history, the 1920 Chicago White Sox, have had four 20-game winners.

A winner of 18 games both in 1972 and 1973, Cuellar enjoyed a great 1974 season with 22-10, 106, 3.11, five shutouts and 20 complete games. After two sub-par seasons, he was released by Baltimore. He signed as a free agent with the Angels in 1977 and was released at the end of the season. At age 42 in 1979, Cuellar had a combined 7-6 record with three clubs in the Puerto Rican and Mexican leagues.

In his 15-season career Cuellar had a record of 185-130, 1632 SO, 3.14 ERA, 172 complete games, 36 shutouts, 11 saves, and 2808 innings pitched in 453 games. In five ALCS and three World Series, he went for 4-4, 56, 2.85, in 12 games.

Currently, Mike Cuellar lives in Orlando, Florida, and is an active participant in the Hispanic Heritage Month event.

Highlights

  • AL Cy Young Award (1969)
  • Twice top 10 Cy Young Award (1970, 1974)
  • 4-time All-Star (1967, 1970-71, 1974)
  • Led league in wins, games started and complete games (1970)
  • Led league in winning percentage (1974)
  • 4-time a 20-game winner (1969-71, 1974)
  • Twice top 10 MVP (1969, 1974)

Quotations

  • Cuellar hurled a no-hitter for Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista's Army team in 1955, at age 18. Allowed to sign with the Havana Sugar Kings of the International League two years later, he struck out seven straight batters in his very first game and had a 2.44 ERA. – Merritt Clifton, excerpt from Baseball Library (http://www.thebaseballpage.com/past/pp/weaverearl/).
  • I gave Mike Cuellar more chances than my first wife. – Earl Weaver, former Orioles manager, excerpt from The Baseball Page (http://www.thebaseballpage.com/past/pp/weaverearl/).

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