Wednesday, December 2, 2009

1976 Topps #285 - Mike Cuellar

  • Mike Cuellar had a long career mostly with the Baltimore Orioles and the Houston Astros. He was signed by the Cincinnati Reds in 1957 and pitched in Havana for the next few years. Mike got a quick 2-game look in 1959 (2 innings, 7 runs allowed). Cuellar continued to pitch in the Reds' organization through the 1962 season.
  • Before the 1963 season Cuellar went to the Detroit Tigers organization. He pitched for a short time for AA Knoxville, then went to the Cleveland Indians organization in another "unknown transaction." Mike finished the '63 season with AAA Jacksonville. Before the 1964 season Mike was sent to the St. Louis Cardinals. He pitched in AAA Jacksonville (now a farm team of the Cardinals) in 1964 and was called up in mid-June. Mike pitched in 32 games (7 starts) for the Cardinals and was 5-5 with a 4.50 ERA.
  • In 1965 Cuellar started the season with Jacksonville. On June 15 he was traded with Ron Taylor to the Houston Astros for Chuck Taylor and Hal Woodeshick. Mike was 1-4 with two saves in 25 games (4 starts) and an ERA of 3.54 for the Astros in 1965.
  • At the age of 29 in 1966 Cuellar finally got a chance to start regularly in the major leagues. He was 12-10 with a 2.22 ERA in 28 starts in 1966. Mike also relieved ten times and notched two saves. In 1967 Mike was 16-11 with a 3.03 ERA. Cuellar made the NL All Star team in 1967 and pitched two scoreless innings. He fell off a bit in 1968 (8-11, 2.74 ERA in 24 starts). After the 1968 season Cuellar was traded with a minor leaguer and Enzo Hernandez to the Baltimore Orioles for Curt Blefary and a minor leaguer.
  • Cuellar paid immediate dividends for the Orioles in 1969. He was the AL Cy Young Award winner, going 23-11 with a 2.38 ERA in 39 starts. Mike had no decision in 8 innings in game 1 of the ALCS and got Baltimore's only victory in the World Series (game 1).
  • Mike led the AL with 24 wins in 1970. He was 24-8 with a 3.40 ERA and also led the league in starts (40) and complete games (21). Cuellar was rocked in his only ALCS appearance but was the winning pitcher in game 5 of the World Series (the final game of the series). Mike was the first batter to hit a grand slam in a league championship series in 1970. He made the All Star team in 1970 but wasn't used.
  • Cuellar won over 20 games for the third season in a row in 1971. He was 20-9 with a 3.08 ERA and won game 2 of the ALCS. Mike lost both of his starts in the World Series (games 3 and 7), although he allowed only 2 runs in 8 innings in the final game. Mike made his third straight All Star team and pitched two shutout innings. On August 16, 1971 Cuellar gave up Harmon Killebrew's 500th home run.
  • Mike won 18 games in both 1972 and 1973. In 1973 Mike lost a tough one in game 3 of the ALCS. He and Ken Holtzman were locked up in a 1-1 duel when Bert Campaneris homered in the bottom of the 11th to win it for the Oakland A's.
  • In 1974 Cuellar was 22-10 (the last time he would win over 20) with a 3.11 ERA. He led the AL with a .688 winning percentage. He won game 1 of the ALCS and was the losing pitcher in game 4 (1 run in 5 innings). Mike made the AL All Star team but wasn't used.
  • At the age of 38 Mike started on the downward slope of his career in 1975. He was 14-12 in 36 starts but his ERA went up to 3.88. Cuellar had a really rough year in 1976 - he was 4-13 with a 4.96 ERA in 19 starts. He was demoted to the bullpen during the All Star break and used sparingly after mid-July.
  • The Orioles released Mike after the 1976 season and he signed with the California Angels. Mike was 0-1 with an 18.90 ERA in two games (1 start) when the Angels cut him loose on May 16, 1977. He attempted a comeback in 1979 and was 7-6 for three clubs in the Puerto Rican and Mexican Leagues.
  • Mike now lives in Orlando, FL and participates in the Hispanic Heritage Month event.
  • Edit: Mike died of stomach cancer on 2 April 2010.
  • Quote: "I gave Mike Cuellar more chances than my first wife." - Earl Weaver
  • Elrod Hendricks said that Mike Cuellar was the best musician on the team. "He could play conga drums with good rhythm." He also ranked Mike as having the best curveball and as being one of his favorite teammates.
  • Liked to face: Tommy Harper (.192 in 99 AB); Rico Petrocelli (.183 in 60 AB); Deron Johnson (.103 in 58 AB)
  • Hated to face: Felipe Alou (.345 in 87 AB); Rod Carew (.349 in 63 AB); Joe Rudi (.362 in 58 AB); Frank Howard (.310, 6 HR in 58 AB)

1 comment:

  1. For a long time, I thought this was a night card. That poor '70s photography will fool you every time.