Nelson Briles pitched in the majors from 1965-1978. For some reason when I was a young one I always mixed up Nelson Briles, Bruce Dal Canton, and Lindy McDaniel.
Briles was signed by the St. Louis Cardinals in 1964. Nelson pitched only one year in the minors (1964) before earning a spot with the Cardinals in 1965. Briles went 3-3 with four saves and a 3.50 ERA in 37 games (2 starts) in 1965.
Briles really had a rough time in 1966. He went 4-15 with six saves and a 3.21 ERA in 49 games (17 starts).
Nelson turned it around in 1967 and went 14-5 and led the NL with a .737 winning percentage. Briles had a 2.43 ERA and six saves in 49 games (14 starts). Nelson appeared in two games in the 1967 World Series. He started game 3 of the series and had a complete game 5-2 victory. Nelson also pitched two scoreless innings in game six.
In 1968 Briles was used exclusively as a starter. Nelson made 33 starts and went 19-11 with a 2.83 ERA. Briles made two starts in the 1968 World Series -- he took the loss in game 2 and didn't get the decision in game 5.
Briles was mostly a starter in 1969 and went 15-13 with a 3.52 ERA in 36 games (33 starts). Nelson missed almost a month of the 1970 season and his stats were down. He ended up going 6-7 with a 6.24 ERA in 30 games (19 starts). After the 1970 season Briles was traded with Vic Davalillo to the Pittsburgh Pirates for Manny Mota and George Brunet.
Nelson started the 1971 season as a reliever and was put in the starting rotation in June. Briles went back to the bullpen in mid-July and returned to the rotation in late August. Briles went 8-4 with one save and a 3.04 ERA in 37 games (14 starts). Briles wasn't used in the NLCS, but he started and won game 5 of the World Series. Nelson pitched a 2-hit shutout in that game and contributed an RBI single.
In 1972 Briles became a starter again. He went 14-11 with a 3.08 ERA in 28 games (27 starts). Nelson started game 4 of the NLCS and allowed two runs in six innings in a no-decision. Briles went 14-13 with a 2.84 ERA in 33 games in 1973. After the 1973 season Briles was traded with Fernando Gonzalez to the Kansas City Royals for Ed Kirkpatrick, Kurt Bevacqua, and a minor leaguer.
Nelson missed two months of the 1974 season with an injury. Briles had a 5-7 record with a 4.08 ERA in 18 games (17 starts) in '74.
Briles missed about five weeks in 1975 and went 6-6 with two saves and a 4.26 ERA in 24 games (16 starts). After the 1975 season Briles was traded to the Texas Rangers for Dave Nelson. Nelson's 1976 card is an airbrush job. How did Topps get a pic of Briles with his new team?
Nelson's last season as a full-time starter was 1976. He started 31 games and went 11-9 with a 3.26 ERA. He also earned a save in his only relief appearance. Briles went 6-4 with a 4.24 ERA for the Rangers in 30 games (15 starts) in 1977. On September 19 Briles was purchased by the Baltimore Orioles. He made two appearances for the Orioles and had a 6.75 ERA in four innings.
Briles went 4-4 with a 4.64 ERA in 16 games (8 starts) for the Orioles in 1978. He missed quite a bit of time in 1978 with injuries and was released before the 1979 season.
- After his playing career Briles became a broadcaster for the Pirates from 1979-1985. He then worked for the organization as a director of corporate sales and as a director of the Pirates annual fantasy camp. Here is a "where are they now" article from 2002.
- Nelson died of an apparent heart attack in Orlando, FL while participating in the Pirates' annual alumni golf tournament on February 13, 2005.
Liked to face: Steve Garvey (.000 in 11 AB); Ron Stone (.053 in 19 AB); Willie Horton (.063 in 16 AB)
Hated to face: Tony Gonzalez (.500 in 30 AB); Jim Lefebvre (.478 in 23 AB); Felipe Alou (.438 in 32 AB)