Today’s Pittsburgh Pirates Card of the Day celebrates the fourth team in franchise history to win the World Series. Nelson Briles was born 80 years ago today. He pitched an important game in team history, throwing a complete game shutout in game five of the 1971 World Series. That was his only appearance of the 1971 postseason, and he made the most of it. Briles has been featured here once before when we looked at his 1974 O-Pee-Chee card. We have looked at this subset of the 1972 Topps set before, with a similar card featuring Steve Blass in game seven of the series. We have also featured two other cards from this subset, but the Blass card is the closest one to today’s card.
Let’s jump right into today’s card, which is #227 in the 1972 Topps set. That number is part of an interesting tidbit in the pricing section below.
Here’s the front of the card:
The playoff subset was a bit different than the regular 1972 Topps cards in design, but they still used bright colors and included two stars at the top. The regular cards had various colors throughout the set, with a star on each side of the team name at the top. The playoff subset used the same colors you see above for every card. You can see Briles here sporting a dirty uniform. If you’ve ever seen video of him pitch (or actually saw him live) you would know why that was a common occurrence. He used to fall down all of the time as he delivered pitches.
Topps started the In Action cards in 1972, so before that set, you didn’t get many action shots. They got action shots for all of the postseason set, so this is actually Briles in game five of the World Series.
Here’s the back of the card:
The back of these cards were just the boxscores. It’s actually a cool feature, even if limited space made it a little difficult to put all of the information. You see limited stats here (no pitching stats) and three defensive categories. Look at that formidable Pirates lineup, which had some pretty big names on the bench. Al Oliver, Richie Hebner, Gene Alley and Bill Mazeroski were all on the bench that day. The Pirates only had ten pitchers in the series, so that allowed for nearly a second full lineup on the bench. They used 25 guys during the series. Briles allowed two hits and two walks in this game, with two strikeouts to his credit.
I mentioned that there is something interesting with this card. It’s how you can find it listed. Notice that Briles isn’t mentioned by name, other than the boxscore. A lot of people selling this card on Ebay don’t include his name in the listing. Some people list the card title “1971 World Series game five”, though you’ll see variations of that as well. Searching by the card number “1972 Topps #227” provided the most matches, though you still need to check off the box that says “baseball” for the sub-category. There are a lot of these cards on Ebay right now, with over 200 options.
You can get a PSA 8 of this card for as low as $30 delivered, though some sellers have much higher prices for PSA 8s, as well as having lower graded cards for more. I’d advise against paying extra for a lower graded card from the same company. There are plenty of sellers who have this card right around $2 delivered in decent shape. It’s amazing to me that due to shipping and seller fees, you basically pay the same price for some massively overproduced card from 20-30 years later, as you would pay for this card. I know which one I’d choose.