Tom Browning, an All-Star pitcher who pitched the only perfect game in Cincinnati Reds history and helped the team win a World Series title, died Monday at his home in Union, Ky. He had 62 years old.
The Boone County Sheriff’s Office announced the death on Twitter. No cause was given.
Sheriff’s deputies responded to Browning’s home after receiving a report of a man who was not breathing. They discovered him unconscious on a couch, and efforts by deputies and emergency medical services personnel to resuscitate him were unsuccessful. The sheriff’s office said foul play was not suspected.
Browning was known not only as a skilled left-handed pitcher, but also as a colorful character. He once ran away from the bullpen at Wrigley Field and sat in full Cincinnati uniform with Chicago Cub fans on a rooftop across the street during a Cincinnati game. Reds-Cubs in July 1993. He was fined $500 for that stunt, according to The Cincinnati Enquirer.
His greatest individual moment on the mound came when he retired all 27 batters he faced in a 1-0 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers at Riverfront Stadium on September 16, 1988. After a rain delay two hours, the match started at 10:02 pm and lasted only one hour and 51 minutes. It came just over three months after Browning lost a no-hitter bid to San Diego in the ninth inning on a one-out single from Tony Gwynn.
Browning’s showpiece against the Dodgers was one of 23 perfect games in major league history and the only one for the Reds, baseball’s oldest professional franchise. A month later, the Dodgers won the World Series, making Browning the only pitcher to pitch a perfect game against the team that won the championship that same year.
Browning went 20-9 with a 3.55 ERA in 1985; he was the first rookie to win 20 games since Bob Grim of the Yankees in 1954. He finished second to St. Louis Cardinals speedy outfielder Vince Coleman in National League Rookie of the Year voting and sixth for the league’s Cy Young Award.
Browning was 18-5 with a 3.41 ERA in 1988, the year he pitched his perfect game; three years later, he was a National League All-Star, despite finishing the season with just a 14-14 record.
He won at least 14 games six times in his career, led the league in starts four times, and pitched over 225 innings six times. He also gave up the league’s most home runs three times.
Browning went 15-9 with a 3.80 ERA in 1990 to help the Reds win their most recent World Series pennant and championship. He was 2-1 with a 3.71 ERA in three playoff starts, beating the mighty Oakland Athletics 8-3 on the road in Game 3 of the World Series to help the Reds pull off a stunning sweep of four games.
After pitching 11 seasons for Cincinnati, from 1984 to 1994, Browning broke a bone in his arm in a game in 1994 and ended his career pitching two games for the Kansas City Royals in 1995. In 12 seasons in the major leagues, he was 123-90. with a 3.94 ERA in 302 games, all but two start.
Thomas Leo Browning was born on April 28, 1960 in Casper, Wyo. He played college baseball at Le Moyne College in Syracuse, NY, and was drafted by the Reds in 1982.
Information about survivors was not immediately available.
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