Card of the Day: 1971 Topps George Brunet

Today is the first and last appearance here for 1970 Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher George Brunet. He was part of a big trade with the St Louis Cardinals and the Pirates on this date in 1971. Unless some card shows up that I don’t know about, this is his only appearance on a card while he was with the Pirates. Most people who were getting these cards, were actually getting them after he was already traded to the Cardinals. That makes this a case of good timing.

Brunet is card #73 from the 1971 Topps set. That meant he was in the first series, which was released while he was still with the Pirates. If he was slated to be part of the high number cards put out later in the year, Topps probably would have cropped/airbrushed a photo to get rid of any team identifiers, while putting Cardinals as his team name. Here’s a look at his only Pirates card.

Here’s the front of the card:

I’ll mention it every time I see these cards. I’m a big fan of the black border look in 1971. It’s something you almost never find pre-2000. We have looked at some cards from the 1895 Mayo set, and that set looks great with the black border. In between that set and the 1971 set, good luck finding multiple examples of black border cards. Brunet was traded to the Pirates on August 31, 1970, joining the team with 29 games left in the season. They made the playoffs that year, but he didn’t get into any games. Then he was traded before Spring Training in 1971. So basically, there aren’t too many photos of Brunet with the Pirates floating around. Topps was pretty lucky to get one, since they had limited time to get that done.

I was actually wondering if this was airbrushed, but I was able to find a second photo of Brunet on the Pirates with those same lights in the background, in nearly an identical pose. His uniform colors look a lot better in that second photo, which is what was throwing me off a bit here. This looks like it could have been airbrushed, but that would have been a lot of work for no reason.

Here’s the back of the card:

These back always remind me of a military color green, like Topps was trying to hide something on the back in camouflage. You get a second photo of Brunet here, and he looks ecstatic about that fact. They only went with one year of stats here, along with the lifetime numbers. Topps had used that setup before, but mostly in their early year. There were cards released with multiple years of stats, so they were going back to a classic look. They added in the debut years in pro ball and the majors, so you got a good idea of just how many stats you weren’t seeing.

One thing about the 1971 Topps set is that any damage on the cards really shows up. It’s a rare set where I don’t like to go mid-grade if I’m buying one. A PSA 8 of this card is $50 delivered. At that grade, the corners/borders should look nearly perfect. Some nice looking ungraded examples are going for around $15 delivered, and that might be your best bet. You can get it cheaper though, and they are extremely plentiful on Ebay, with well over 200 auctions for the card. So if you just want one, you have plenty of options around $3 delivered.

What you can’t get is an autographed card. Brunet played for a long time, and lived until 1991, so there was time to get some of his cards signed. However, it also takes willingness to sign more than just time, and he apparently didn’t sign much. His autographs are worth over $100, while a signed 1971 Topps recently ended just over $1,000.