Mike Cuellar, Baltimore's 'Crazy Horse'
Mike Cuellar was a left-handed journeyman pitcher from Cuba when he arrived in Baltimore in 1969. Before long he had found a home in a solid rotation of starting pitchers. In 1971 he was one of four Orioles pitchers to win 20 or more games, along with Dave McNally, Pat Dobson and Jim Palmer. Cuellar, who won the Cy Young Award in 1969 and pitched in three straight World Series with the Orioles, died Friday at age 72.
Cuellar was known for his quirky behavior on and off the field, as Baltimore Sun baseball writer Mike Klingaman reported:
Teammates called him "Crazy Horse" for all his superstitions. He always sat in the same spot on the bench. On days he pitched, Cuellar refused to give autographs and wouldn't budge from the dugout until his catcher donned his shinguards every inning.
"Mike never stepped on a foul line," first baseman Boog Powell said. "If his stride was off and he got too close, he used a little 'chicken hop' to step over it."
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.
The Orioles took Cuellar's eccentricities in stride.
"Mike had a lot of things that he had to do," Blair said. "But whatever he did, it worked."
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-- Claire Noland
Photo: Baltimore Orioles pitcher Mike Cuellar celebrates with Hall of Fame third baseman Brooks Robinson after winning the 1970 World Series over the Cincinnati Reds. Credit: Associated Press