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Nelson Briles – 1973 Topps #303

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ImageNelson Kelley Briles (August 5, 1943 – February 13, 2005) was a pitcher in Major League Baseball who played for the St. Louis Cardinals, Pittsburgh Pirates, Kansas City Royals, Texas Rangers and Baltimore Orioles. Briles batted and threw right-handed. In a 14-year career, Briles compiled a 129-112 record with a 3.44 ERA in 2,111 innings pitched. A hard thrower whose best pitch was a slider, he also exhibited excellent control. He posted a respectable 2.126 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
Briles began his Major League career with the Cardinals as a reliever and spot starter. In 1967, Dick Hughes was promoted into the starting rotation after Bob Gibson suffered a broken leg when hit by a Roberto Clemente line drive on July 15. Briles responded by winning nine straight games, leading the National League in winning percentage and the Cardinals staff in ERA. He also tossed a complete game for the Cardinals in Game 3 of their 1967 World Series win over the Red Sox. In 1968, Briles won 19 games and 15 in 1969, but he slumped badly in the next two years. Before the 1971 season, the Cardinals traded Briles, along with Vic Davalillo to the Pirates for Matty Alou and George Brunet. ImageHe was 8-4 for the Pirates that season and pitched a complete-game two-hit shutout against Baltimore in Game 5 of the 1971 World Series. Briles won 14 in 1972 and 1973, and was sent to Kansas City. He also pitched with Texas and finished his career with the Orioles.
Following his retirement as a player, Briles worked as a television color commentator for the Pirates, Seattle Mariners, and USA Network. He joined the Pirates’ front office in 1986 as director of corporate sales, and was also the director of the team’s annual fantasy camp. Briles collapsed and died of an apparent heart attack in Orlando, Florida, while participating in the annual Pirates alumni golf tournament. He was 61.

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