Saturday, October 3, 2015

Nelson Briles (#243)

This is the first solo card for Nelson Briles (he also appeared on a Cardinals Rookies card in 1965). He pitched for 14 seasons – the first 6 with the Cardinals. I knew Briles had moved on to the Pirates, but until today did not know that he also played for 3 other teams.

After only one season in the minors, Briles made his debut with the Cardinals in April 1965. He was primarily a reliever during his rookie season, then became a spot starter the next year.


He began the 1967 season as a reliever, then moved into the rotation when Bob Gibson broke his leg in July. Nelson remained in the rotation upon Gibby’s return, fashioning a 14-5 record and leading the NL in winning percentage (.737). He also pitched a complete game in game #3 in the World Series – the only Cardinals’ pitcher not named Bob Gibson to do so.

Briles followed that up by winning 19 games in 1968, and was the team’s #2 starter behind Gibson, who won 22. Nelson won 15 games the following season, with Steve Carlton moving ahead of him in the rotation.

After a 6-7 season in 1970, Briles and outfielder Vic Davalillo were traded to the Pirates for outfielder Matty Alou and pitcher George Brunet. (Wow, I can’t believe I haven’t blogged somewhere already about the well-traveled Brunet! I’ll have to get on that.) Nelson was mostly a reliever for his first year in Pittsburgh, but won 14 games each in ’72 and ’73 as a starter. He also pitched in the post-season in ’71 and ’72.

After the 1973 season he was traded to the Royals, and 2 years later to the Rangers, but he never repeated the success he had with the Cardinals and Pirates. In late-September 1977 the Orioles purchased his contract, and he finished out the season and 1 more year with Baltimore, then was released in January 1979.

Briles passed away in 2005 at age 61.

1 comment:

scott allan said...

Love the reds and yellows on that card. Too bad the background has that yellowish tint, otherwise it would be a beautiful card.