Card of the Day: 1979 Topps Steve Brye

Today’s Card of the Day is a one-and-done player for this series. Outfielder Steve Brye turns 74 years old tomorrow. He was moved up one day because February 3rd is seriously lacking with cards available to match up to the date. Brye finished his nine-year big league career as a backup outfielder for the 1978 Pittsburgh Pirates. His only card showing him on the Pirates is his 1979 Topps card. Without any other options for him, we take a look at a card from one of my least favorite sets. Here’s card #28 from that set, featuring Steve Brye.

Here’s the front of the card:

Brye is definitely one of the most forgettable Pirates players, even though he was from a very good team. I won’t say I agree, but I have seen it mentioned recently more than twice that the 1978 Pirates team was better than the 1979 champs. Brye played 66 games that season, putting up a .235/.305/.322 slash line in 130 plate appearances. It wasn’t his worst season, but it was well below average for his career.

Brye had quite a split that year, seeing a normal bench spot amount of work through July 15th, before batting just 27 times over the final 77 games of the season. The Pirates that year were 41-43 on July 15th, then went 47-30 the rest of the way. That’s not a good look for him, but as a bench player, he had little to do with that losing early on. The team was 8-8 when he played a complete game that season.

It’s too bad his only Topps card with the Pirates was in this set. I don’t like anything about the front design. Why did the Pirates players get blue banners and red writing for the name? Some teams got colors that matched the team color. Maybe Topps was celebrating the 81st anniversary of the year the Pirates changed their name to the Patriots and wore red, white and blue uniforms. I’m not joking…well, at least not about the name and uniforms.

I really dislike the design of these cards.

Here’s the back of the card:

The backs of these cards aren’t any better. What I like on this particular card is that it shows Brye’s entire big league career. He played minor league ball in Hawaii in 1979, then retired. I read that earlier, and part of me wonders if he didn’t just get paid to be in Hawaii for six months, but in his mind he really retired after the 1978 season.

The trivia question is an interesting one because I was just part of a conversation about Native American baseball players, and the man known as Indian Bob Johnson was in fact part Cherokee. His name came up in the conversation, as well as Jim Thorpe and the Pirates own Moses Yellow Horse, just to name a few.

Rant time. One of the things I see wrong more than anything is people thinking when Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier, the American League and National League only had white players. That’s both not true, and slightly disrespectful to the players who came before him. It’s a blanket statement that the uneducated regurgitate, usually when talking down about Babe Ruth and how great he was back then. Ruth is the greatest player ever, deal with it. There were plenty of Native Americans in the majors, handfuls of Latin players starting in the 1910s (even more during the war years), and even Cuban players of African descent! The color line in baseball was for African-Americans, not everyone of color. The 1944 Washington Senators had ten Latin players. Those players all deserve to be known for what they went through during their time.

If people only knew how much baseball history out there is wrong on numerous subjects. Nolan Ryan doesn’t hold the single-season strikeout record, Rickey Henderson doesn’t hold the single-season stolen base record, etc etc. What I’m saying is feel free to ask me any baseball history questions because I hate to see wrong information out there about any part of the game. I specialize in the Pirates, but I take in all baseball history, and the earlier the better.

Oh yeah, this is a card article for Steve Brye. Did I mention how I hate the looks of these 1979 Topps cards, front and back? The two things I like here is the pillbox cap on the front and his career stats on the back. Feel free to disagree, but me personally, not a fan of those pinstripe uniforms from that era.

If you would like this card, there are over 100 examples on Ebay right now. Please don’t pay more than $2 delivered unless you want an autographed copy. He’s been generous with the autographs over the years, with ten copies available, starting at $7 delivered. What’s interesting is that you really have choices with the autographs. He’s signed in red, blue and black marker, and he’s moved the signature around the card. There’s one really interesting auction for a PSA 5 example of the regular card. There is no reason to have a PSA 5 of this card. You can buy nicer ones ungraded for $2. The seller wants $9 delivered, with most of that price being delivery cost. That’s a waste of $8 if you bought that one, but the grading cost alone is worth more than the seller is asking.