They called him ‘the crafty Cuban’

Let me ask you a couple of baseball questions: First, who pitched for the Havana Sugar Kings of AAA International League in the 1950’s and won a World Series game in 1970. Second, who was the first Latino to win the Cy Young Award? The answer to both is Mike Cuellar, who played for Havana in the International League and shared the award with Denny McLain in 1969

We remember Miguel Angel Santana Cuellar today. Mike was born May 8, 1937 in Las Villas, Cuba.  He started in the Reds’ organization and played with The Sugar Kings, Havana’s AAA franchise. Cuellar spent the next few years between Cincinnati and Houston, where he won 16 games in 1967. 

At the end of the 1968 season, Houston thought that 31-year old Cuellar had seen his best days as a major league pitcher. He was traded to the Orioles and proved everyone wrong by winning 139 games over the next 7 seasons

The “Crafty Cuban,” as he was known for his command of breaking pitches, turned into one of the premiere pitchers in the American League. He won 20-games in 4 different seasons, 1969, 1970, 1971 & 1974.  He pitched a complete game in game 5 to win the 1970 World Series for Baltimore. 

During his brilliant career, he won 185 games, a 3.14 ERA and completed 172 starts! Without question, one of the best Latino pitchers ever.

Mike died in 2010.  He was voted # 27 in the Top 40 Orioles of all time.

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2 thoughts on “They called him ‘the crafty Cuban’”

  1. I remember that great pitching rotation of the 1971 Orioles, with Jim Palmer, Dave McNally, Miguel Cuellar and Pat Dobson who went 20-8 that year. Orlando Pena (Cuba) was also a pitcher for the Orioles in 1971. and another Cuban pitcher, Marcelino Lopez, played for the Orioles in 1969 and 1970 along with Cuellar

  2. You mean he was the first Hispanic to win the Cy Young Award and one of the best Hispanic pitchers ever. I don’t know if he would have objected to being called “Latino,” but I certainly find it objectionable.

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