Former Cincinnati Reds pitcher Tom Browning, Mr. Perfect, dies at 62

Tom Browning, who authored the only perfect game in Cincinnati Reds history, died Monday at 62, according to the Boone County Sheriff’s Office.

Deputies were dispatched to Browning’s home in Union, Kentucky, after he was found unresponsive on his couch. Browning was pronounced dead at 1:13 p.m. No foul play is suspected, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

“The entire Reds family is stunned and deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Tom Browning,” the Reds said in a statement. “We join Reds Country in mourning the loss of one our all-time greats, who created so many memories and magical moments for us all. Our deepest condolences to Tom’s family during this difficult time.”

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Reds pitcher Tom Browning delivers a pitch in the fifth inning of the Reds’ 3-2 victory over the Padres on May 9, 1994 in San Diego.

Browning pitched for 12 seasons in the Major Leagues, including 11 with the Reds, helping the franchise to a World Series title in 1990. He was runner-up for National League Rookie of the Year in 1985 and finished sixth in the Cy Young voting after he posted a 20-9 record and a 3.55 ERA in his first full season.

The 6-foot-1 lefty threw one of the 23 perfect games in MLB history in a 1-0 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers on Sept. 16, 1988 at Riverfront Stadium. It took him one hour and 51 minutes to make history, which was less time than he had to wait through a pregame two-hour rain delay. Browning’s perfect game, which was the first in the National League since Sandy Koufax in 1965, came a few months after he lost a no-hit bid in the ninth inning against the San Diego Padres.

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“This is exciting,” third baseman Chris Sabo told reporters afterward. “We’re all little boys at heart. This is what dreams are made of and he got his dream tonight.”

The Reds sweep pitcher Tom Browning off his feet after striking out the Dodgers' Tracy Woodson for the final out of his 1-0 perfect game on Sept. 16, 1988.

The Reds sweep pitcher Tom Browning off his feet after striking out the Dodgers’ Tracy Woodson for the final out of his 1-0 perfect game on Sept. 16, 1988.

One of Browning’s most memorable moments in a Reds uniform came outside of a baseball stadium. Browning sat on a Wrigley Field rooftop during a game on July 7, 1993, sneaking out of the bullpen and walking across the street in full uniform. He was fined $500 for the stunt.

Browning completed his Reds career with a 123-88 record, ranking 12th in franchise history in wins, and a 3.92 ERA across 300 appearances (298 starts). He made three postseason starts during the Reds’ title run in 1990, including Game 3 of the World Series, an 8-3 win over the Oakland A’s. Browning famously left the stadium during Game 2 of the World Series when his wife went into labor with one of their five children and he didn’t tell manager Lou Piniella. The Reds put out a radio bulletin asking him to return to the ballpark as the game went into extra innings.

He was inducted into the Reds Hall of Fame in 2006.

Tom Browning tips his cap to the fans during the Reds Hall of Fame Class of 2012 ceremonies.

Tom Browning tips his cap to the fans during the Reds Hall of Fame Class of 2012 ceremonies.

“RIP, my friend, Mr. Perfect, Tom Browning,” Reds Hall of Fame shortstop and former teammate Barry Larkin wrote on Twitter. “We shared some great times as well as the same birthdate 4/28. You will be missed.”

Longtime Reds catcher Tucker Barnhart tweeted, “This hurts. Bad.”

Following retirement, Browning remained a fixture at annual Reds events like Redsfest, the team’s caravan tour and Reds Community Fund activities. He was the first full-time manager of the Florence Freedom, an independent league team, in 2003 and 2004, and he worked multiple years as a pitching coach in the Reds’ farm system.

His wife, Debbie Browning, died on March 23.

Tom Browning, on Dec. 14, pleaded guilty in Brown County Municipal Court to a misdemeanor drunken driving charge, according to court records. The judge suspended all but three days of a 180-day jail sentence, court records show.

Browning, born in Casper, Wyoming, was a ninth-round draft pick in 1982 out of Tennessee Wesleyan University. He led the league in games started four seasons during his career, surpassing 225 innings six times. He broke a bone in his arm during a game in 1994 and pitched in only two games afterward.

On the videoboard at Great American Ball Park on Monday night, there was a picture of Browning accompanied by “1960-2022” and three words underneath:

“We are heartbroken.”

This article originally appeared on Cincinnati Enquirer: Tom Browning, former Reds pitcher with perfect game, dies at 62

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