The Baltimore Orioles, picked by many in the spring to challenge the champion Detroit Tigers, stormed ahead in the new American League Eastern Division in the season’s first month. When the writers selected the Player and Pitcher of the Month for April, two reasons for the Oriole surge rose to the top of the list. Center fielder Paul Blair, known for his defensive skills, was named Player of the Month, and southpaw hurler Mike Cuellar, acquired from Houston in the off season, earned Pitcher of the Month honors in his initial month in the junior circuit.
Blair finished the month tied for the league lead in home runs (7) with two more notable sluggers: Washington’s Frank Howard and Boston’s Carl Yaztrzemski. He leads baseball with 10 doubles and batted .326 for the month. The 25-year-old Oklahoman struggled mightily at the plate last season batting a scant .193. Blair did bat over .300 in his sophomore campaign in 1966.
Cuellar finished the first month with a perfect 5-0 record in his first 5 starts for the Birds. Mike posted three seasons with an ERA under 3.00 since joining the Astros rotation in 1966. Houston traded Cuellar to Baltimore in a deal involving 1965 AL Rookie of the Year, Curt Blefary. The 31-year-old Cuban seems to be enjoying his new settings in the American League, and gives Manager Earl Weaver a solid complement to ace starters Dave McNally and Jim Palmer that now rivals the championship rotation of the Tigers.