CORPUS CHRISTI - Former Alice Coyote ace Bobby Cuellar, who has logged 46 seasons in professional baseball, is the 2020 South Texas Winter Baseball Banquet Lifetime Achievement Award recipient, Hooks General Manager Wes Weigle announced Wednesday.The 16th annual event, presented by Whataburger, is Thursday, January 30 at the Solomon P.
CORPUS CHRISTI - Former Alice Coyote ace Bobby Cuellar, who has logged 46 seasons in professional baseball, is the 2020 South Texas Winter Baseball Banquet Lifetime Achievement Award recipient, Hooks General Manager Wes Weigle announced Wednesday.
The 16th annual event, presented by Whataburger, is Thursday, January 30 at the Solomon P. Ortiz Center in Corpus Christi. Tickets, priced at $55, are on sale at the Whataburger Field Box Office or via phone at 361-561-HOOK (4665). Doors open at 6:30 p.m.
Cuellar, 67, has been a member of the Los Angeles Dodgers organization since 2015. His coaching tenure is highlighted by Major League stints with Seattle, Montreal, Texas, Pittsburgh and Minnesota.
In 1969 and 1970, Cuellar led the Alice High School baseball team to the program's only two district titles. The 1970 Coyotes made the school's lone appearance in the state tournament, falling to eventual state champion Houston Bellaire in a 1-0 decision. Cuellar carried a no-hitter over the first six innings of the state semifinal before the Cardinals scratched out a run in the seventh to advance.
Cuellar was named the 1970 Texas Schoolboy Baseball Player of the Year by the Amarillo Chamber of Commerce, which was the highest statewide award offered at the time. The right-hander posted a 16-3 record while pitching in 20 of the Coyotes' 30 contests as a senior. In five playoff victories, Cuellar fanned 63 batters in 33 innings. His postseason exploits included a one-hitter vs. Austin McCallum in the second round.
After earning a scholarship to attend the University of Texas, Cuellar was selected by the Texas Rangers in the 29th round of the 1974 draft. He reached the Double-A Texas League in 1976, going 9-5 with a 2.65 ERA over 48 appearances for the San Antonio Brewers.
Cuellar won 10 games for Triple-A Tucson the following year, earning a promotion to the Rangers in September. The only run he allowed in 6.2 major-league innings was a solo home run by veteran slugger Dave Kingman.
At the close of the 1977 regular season, Cuellar began a three-year run playing winter ball in Puerto Rico, winning a league title and Caribbean World Series championship in 1978 with Indios de Mayagüez, a club led by former Astros pitcher and Bonham, Texas native Danny Darwin.
Following the 1978 season, the Rangers traded Cuellar to Cleveland. He responded by notching a 3.71 ERA in 128 Triple-A appearances over three campaigns with the Tacoma Tugs of the Pacific Coast League and the Charleston Charlies of the International League.
Cuellar toiled in the Mexican League in 1982 as a member of the Nuevo Laredo Tecolotes. He was signed by Seattle in 1983 and performed as a player-coach over his final three seasons on the hill. During this time, Cuellar was pressed into service 11 times with High-A Bakersfield (Calif.), Triple-A Salt Lake City (Utah), and Triple-A Calgary (Alberta, Canada).
At the age of 33, Cuellar's first exclusive coaching assignment came in 1986 as manager of the Wausau (Wis.) Timbers, the Mariners' Midwest League affiliate. The Timbers' infield was anchored by a 19-year-old shortstop, Omar Vizquel, who would go on to win 11 Gold Gloves over a 24-year career in the Majors.
After skippering Wausau in 1987, Cuellar served as pitching coach for the San Bernardino Spirit of the High-A California League. His work with Seattle farmhands continued through the 1994 season, including stops at Double-A Williamsport (Pa.), Double-A Jacksonville (Fla.) and Triple-A Calgary.
In 1995, Cuellar was tabbed as the Mariners' big-league pitching coach. Seattle posted a 79-66 record and won the franchise's first American League West title. Cuellar's staff ace was future Hall of Famer Randy Johnson, who went 18-2 with a circuit-best 2.48 ERA and 294 strikeouts en route to the first of his five Cy Young awards.
Cuellar helped the Mariners capture 85 wins in 1996 before returning to Canada as pitching coach of the Montreal Expos. The first of his four years with Montreal featured another Cy Young performance as Pedro Martinez rolled to a 17-8 mark while leading the National League in ERA (1.90), complete games (13), and strikeouts-per-nine-innings (11.4).
In 2001, the Rangers hired Cuellar to work as their bullpen coach. He then followed up the short stint in the Lone Star State with a four-year run as Minnesota's Triple-A pitching coach from 2002-05.
In the wake of a slow start to his Major League career, Johan Santana opened the 2002 season in Triple-A Edmonton. Cuellar helped Santana develop his signature changeup and the Venezuelan southpaw proceeded to strike out 75 batters in 48.2 frames before earning a late-May call-up to Minnesota. Meanwhile, the Trappers won 81 games and the Pacific Coast League title.
Cuellar worked for Pittsburgh from 2006-07, operating as bullpen coach under Pirates manager Jim Tracy. In 2008, he returned to the Minnesota organization, where seven years of service - one as manager of Double-A New Britain (Conn.) and four as pitching coach for Triple-A Rochester (N.Y.) - culminated with a post on manager Ron Gardenhire's Twins staff from 2013-14.
Cuellar's resume with the Dodgers boasts league championships with Great Lakes (Midland, Mich.) in 2016 and with Ogden (Utah) in 2017.
Bobby and his wife of 41 years, Nora, have three children - Tiffany, Bobby Ray, and Emma - and four grandchildren - Isabella, Westley, Sophia, and Robert Patrick. The family is a longtime supporter of the Boys and Girls Club of Alice, with Nora serving on the board.
Alice head baseball coach Nick Alvarado recently established the Bobby Cuellar Bridging the Gap Scholarship, which is awarded annually to the most deserving Coyote baseball player.
In 1996, Alice's National Little League baseball field was named after Cuellar.