Only 2 teams have ever had 4 20 game winners on the same staff; the 1920 Chicago White Sox and the 1971 Baltimore Orioles. The Orioles, their fans, and all of baseball lost one of those 20 game winners yesterday when Miguel “Mike” Cuellar passed away after a battle with stomach cancer. He was 72
I cannot say I remember seeing him pitch, since he left the team in 1976 (when I was 3), and retired in 1977 after pitching for the California Angels. But the man was a part of 2 World Series Championship teams (he was a member of the 1964 St. Louis Cardinals), and was part of 3 straight World Series teams with the Orioles from 1969-1971. In 1969 he became the 1st Oriole, and more significantly the 1st Latin American player to win the Cy Young Award (he shared it with Denny McLain).
He was a superstitious player who always sat on the same spot on the bench and wouldn’t give autographs on days he was pitching. He also refused to leave the dugout until the catcher had his shinguards on, and he refused to step on any foul lines when running on or off the field. Earl Weaver had a favorite story to tell about Cuellar…
Weaver said Cuellar had a lucky cap, which he once forgot to take on a road trip to Milwaukee. ”We had to call the clubhouse man back in Baltimore to airmail that [bleeping] hat to us,” Weaver said.
Cuellar still ranks 2nd all time in Orioles history in complete games (133) and 3rd in shutouts (30).
I do hope the team makes some kind of plans to honor him this season. A Mike Cuellar T-shirt Day, or a patch for their jerseys, something. He certainly warrants it. And we can only hope that any of our Young Guns can become half of the pitcher, competitor, and teammate that Mike Cuellar was.
About the Author
Written by Ron Burr
Ron is a lifelong resident of Maryland and has been a passionate player and fan of sports for as long as he can remember. When he is not watching the games or explaining to his lovely wife why he is cursing at the television, he runs an improv/sketch comedy troupe, Drop Three. He can't hit a curveball or run a sub 4.5 40 yard dash, but he knows the games and loves talking about it with anyone. Differing opinions are welcome and encouraged!