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Mike Cuellar 1937-2010

Posted by Andy on April 3, 2010

I was utterly shocked this morning to read about the passing of Mike Cuellar from stomach cancer. I didn't know he was ill and it's a shame to see someone die when as young as 72.

I'm sure lots of readers have memories of Cuellar and I encourage you to share them here in the comments.

Here are a few stats I found.

Cuellar is the 3rd-winningest pitcher born in Cuba:

Rk Yrs From To ASG W L W-L% ERA
1 Luis Tiant 19 1964 1982 3 229 172 .571 3.30
2 Dolf Luque 20 1914 1935 0 194 179 .520 3.24
3 Mike Cuellar 15 1959 1977 4 185 130 .587 3.14
4 Camilo Pascual 18 1954 1971 7 174 170 .506 3.63
5 Livan Hernandez 14 1996 2009 2 156 151 .508 4.45
6 Pedro Ramos 15 1955 1970 1 117 160 .422 4.08
7 Diego Segui 15 1962 1977 0 92 111 .453 3.81
8 Orlando Hernandez 9 1998 2007 0 90 65 .581 4.13
9 Jose Contreras 7 2003 2009 1 71 63 .530 4.61
10 Mike Fornieles 12 1952 1963 1 63 64 .496 3.96
Totals 402 1914 2009 40 1890 1867 .503 3.87
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 4/3/2010.

He had a higher W-L% and lower ERA than the two guys above him, as well. Livan Hernandez seems to have a shot at passing Cuellar but nobody is going to touch Tiant's record for a long time.

Cuellar was one of the last of the dying breed of pitchers. Among players to start their careers in 1959 or later, Cuellar was one of just a handful to complete at least 45% of his starts:

Rk Player GS CG From To Age G SHO GF W L W-L% IP H R ER BB SO ERA ERA+ Tm
1 Bob Gibson 482 255 1959 1975 23-39 528 56 21 251 174 .591 3884.1 3279 1420 1258 1336 3117 2.91 128 STL
2 Juan Marichal 457 244 1960 1975 22-37 471 52 11 243 142 .631 3507.0 3153 1329 1126 709 2303 2.89 123 SFG-BOS-LAD
3 Mike Cuellar 379 172 1959 1977 22-40 453 36 33 185 130 .587 2808.0 2538 1130 979 822 1632 3.14 110 CIN-STL-HOU-BAL-CAL
6 Mark Fidrych 56 34 1976 1980 21-25 58 5 2 29 19 .604 412.1 397 163 142 99 170 3.10 126 DET
7 Tom Tellmann 2 2 1979 1985 25-31 112 0 55 18 7 .720 227.0 240 84 77 83 94 3.05 125 SDP-MIL-OAK
8 Bob Lacey 2 1 1977 1984 23-30 284 1 131 20 29 .408 450.2 464 213 184 139 251 3.67 104 OAK-TOT-CAL-SFG
9 Wenty Ford 2 1 1973 1973 26-26 4 0 1 1 2 .333 16.1 17 10 10 8 4 5.51 74 ATL
10 Bill Kelso 2 1 1964 1968 24-28 119 1 41 12 5 .706 201.1 171 76 70 93 162 3.13 102 LAA-CAL-CIN
11 Cecil Butler 2 1 1962 1964 24-26 11 0 5 2 0 1.000 35.1 33 17 13 9 24 3.31 116 MLN
12 Don Loun 2 1 1964 1964 23-23 2 1 0 1 1 .500 13.0 13 4 3 3 3 2.08 184 WSA
13 Jim Constable 2 1 1962 1963 29-30 7 1 1 1 1 .500 20.1 17 5 5 5 13 2.21 175 MLN-SFG
14 Frank Williams 1 1 1984 1989 26-31 333 1 85 24 14 .632 471.2 418 194 157 227 314 3.00 125 SFG-CIN-DET
15 Larry Anderson 1 1 1974 1977 21-24 16 1 8 2 3 .400 41.1 48 28 26 22 23 5.66 70 MIL-CHW
16 Dave Dowling 1 1 1964 1966 21-23 2 0 1 1 0 1.000 10.0 12 2 2 0 3 1.80 222 STL-CHC
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 4/3/2010.

As you can see, he's up there with only Bob Gibson and Juan Marichal.

I'd have to guess that Cueller was bummed to see the DH come along. In the three years prior to introduction of the DH (1970-1972) he was one of just 8 pitchers to smack at least 5 homers:

Rk Player HR PA RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS Pos Tm
1 Fergie Jenkins 10 375 39 13 110 .184 .212 .315 .526 *1 CHC
2 Bob Gibson 9 325 41 12 74 .227 .257 .361 .618 /*1 STL
3 Rick Wise 9 289 34 8 84 .204 .227 .343 .571 *1 PHI-STL
4 Sonny Siebert 7 254 28 7 58 .211 .252 .346 .599 /*1 BOS
5 Blue Moon Odom 6 183 10 6 71 .171 .199 .306 .505 /*1 OAK
6 Mike Cuellar 5 334 19 4 140 .105 .116 .160 .276 *1 BAL
7 Dave McNally 5 301 19 21 126 .147 .211 .248 .460 *1 BAL
8 Tom Seaver 5 321 21 21 103 .174 .232 .268 .500 *1 NYM
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 4/3/2010.

He certainly didn't get too many other hits, though, producing just a .105 BA, by far the lowest out of this group.

Anyway, we're sad to see you go, Mike Cuellar.

This entry was posted on Saturday, April 3rd, 2010 at 12:19 pm and is filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

9 Responses to “Mike Cuellar 1937-2010”

  1. He split the CYA w/ Denny McClain in 1969 and pitched great in the WS. RIP, Mike Cuellar.

  2. i am amazed at the utter dearth of cuellar video hanging around on the Internet.

    there is video of him pitching in the 1970 WS on a DVD that i watched recently but nothing that lets one really look at his "junkball" style.

  3. Here is a nice piece by Kevin at Orioles Card "O" the Day, an Orioles baseball card blog.

  4. Kevin pointed me towards an article written about Cuellar that was posted the day before he died.

    http://blogs.orlandosentinel.com/news_hispanicaffairs/2010/04/baseball-legend-mike-cuellar-struggling-in-orlando-hospital.html

  5. Great Pitcher, but very superstitious. Read The Baseball Hall of Shame, pages 177-9, for more details. One story had him wearing blue clothes and eating only Chinese food on days he was slated to pitch. Another had him refusing to pitch without his lucky hat. One he got his lucky hat he proceeded to throw a shutout against the Cleveland Indians.

  6. Correction, the Baseball Hall of Shame 4, pages 177-9.

  7. DoubleDiamond Says:

    Baseball helped me learn how to pronounce a lot of the common and not so common Hispanic last names. I didn't realize that the Mike Cuellar I read about in the newspaper (mainly the Washington Star) and the Mike I heard about on the radio whose last name I pictured as being spelled something like Quayar were the same person for a while. This was not long after Motorola had introduced a Quasar model T.V. (Hockey has helped me learn to pronounce some French and other foreign names.)

    In 1974, Cuellar got off to a hot streak. I remember one game in which he took a no-hitter late into the game. I think #35 has been one of my favorite numbers because he wore it with the Orioles. Later, when I was still an Orioles fan, Mike Mussina wore #35 but then took it with him to the Yankees. Among today's players, my favorite #35 is another lefthander, Cole Hamels.

  8. Cuellar was such a huge part of those great Oriole teams. Everyone remembers Palmer, but for this left-handed kid it was McNally and Cuellar, and now they're both gone. The trade that brought Cuellar from Houston before the '69 season was second only to the Frank Robinson deal as far as adding to the home-grown core of that dynasty. Over a six-year stretch, he won 125 games...talk about under-rated. I do have a VHS tape commemorating the '70 Series, and I'll be viewing it again this week.

  9. Kahuna Tuna Says:

    The trade that brought Cuellar from Houston before the '69 season was second only to the Frank Robinson deal as far as adding to the home-grown core of that dynasty.

    I'd agree with you, JVD. I noticed that good-field, no-hit prospect Enzo Hernández came to the Orioles along with Cuéllar before the 1969 season and was part of the package traded to San Diego for Pat Dobson before the '71 season, and I wondered whether the Orioles of that era (say, '61 to '73) tended to trade disproportionately with NL and/or second-division teams. The answer is No as to the NL teams and Yes as to the second-division teams; the significant trades were split pretty much evenly between over-.500 and .500-and-below teams.

    The really good Orioles teams of the mid-'60s to late '70s were built mostly through amateur signings and, later, the amateur draft. Consider the following signings and draft selections:

    1959 — Boog Powell, Dean Chance
    1960 — Dave McNally
    1961 — Andy Etchebarren, Darold Knowles, Eddie Watt
    1962 — Dave Johnson, Mark Belanger
    1963 — Wally Bunker, Dave Leonhard, Jim Ray, Jim Palmer
    1964 — Mike Epstein, Sparky Lyle, Merv Rettenmund
    1965 — Roger Freed
    1966 — Terry Crowley
    1967 — Bobby Grich, Don Baylor, Johnny Oates
    1968 — Junior Kennedy, Al Bumbry, Rich Coggins
    1969 — Don Hood, Mike Barlow, Wayne Garland
    1970 — Jim Fuller, Doug DeCinces
    1971 — Kiko Garcia
    1972 — Mike Willis
    1973 — Mike Parrott, Eddie Murray, Mike Flanagan, Jerry Garvin, Mark Lee

    Some serious talent listed here, including HoFers Palmer and Murray and HoF snub Grich, plus several All-Stars and good players later traded for future Oriole regulars. As for the others, Ray and Lyle were drafted by other clubs before reaching the big-league level. Freed was traded to the Phillies for Grant Jackson. Chance, Willis and Garvin were taken in the '60 and '76 expansion drafts and became solid performers, at least briefly, for their new teams.