What are your memories of Mike Cuellar?
There’s something about growing up as a fan of a successful team.
The guys you never saw play still seem like your heroes, youthful legends trapped in time.
I don’t remember seeing any baseball until 1976 or so. But those Orioles’ World Championship teams in 1966 and 1970 still seem like part of my history. Because they were my dad’s favorites and my brothers’ and I heard all about them.
My sisters and I were more aligned to the 1979-83 clubs. But I never discounted those older teams – or my father would quickly explain what real baseball was, when pitchers finished what they started and sluggers played the field and yadda yadda yadda.
The point is I never saw Mike Cuellar pitch – or Dave McNally or Pat Dobson – but I know the history, I know how important Cuellar, who died Friday of stomach cancer, was to the franchise. I met Cuellar a couple times in the past few years while doing my job. Brief, friendly encounters, nothing too memorable.
Still, when an Orioles’ great passes on, it strikes a chord in all of us who once followed the team. Even for those of us who have moved past the fan stage and now follow the team to make ends meet.
The lights are low in this place tonight. The Orioles title flag behind the bar is at half mast. Salsa music is playing softly in the background. Raise your glass.
Here’s to Mike Cuellar and his screwball. And to the memories he provided a generation – and then some – of Orioles fans.
Daily Think Special: What are your memories of Mike Cuellar?