Browning pitching for Cincinnati in 1991
|Born: April 28, 1960|
|September 9, 1984, for the Cincinnati Reds|
|Last MLB appearance|
|May 19, 1995, for the Kansas City Royals|
|Earned run average||3.94|
|Career highlights and awards|
Thomas Leo Browning (born April 28, 1960) is a former Major League Baseball left-handed pitcher. During a 12-year baseball career, he pitched for the Cincinnati Reds (1984-1994) and the Kansas City Royals (1995). He is also co-author of Tom Browning's Tales from the Reds Dugout.
Browning was drafted by the Cincinnati Reds in the ninth round of the 1982 June draft out of Tennessee Wesleyan College in Athens, Tennessee. That year, he led the Pioneer League in strikeouts and innings pitched, and after learning a screwball during the Fall Instruction League, went 8-1 with 101 strikeouts in innings pitched for Class-A Tampa in 1983. He eventually earned a midseason promotion to Class-AA Waterbury and struck out 101 batters in innings pitched.
Browning began the 1984 season with Class-AAA Wichita, where he went 12-10 with a league-high 160 strikeouts. On July 31 of that year, he threw a seven-inning no-hitter against Iowa and later earned a September call-up to play for Pete Rose's Cincinnati Reds. In his major-league debut, Browning beat Orel Hershiser and the Los Angeles Dodgers while pitching innings and giving up just one run. He finished the year with a 1-0 record and recorded a 1.54 ERA to retain his spot on the major-league club the following season.
As a rookie, Browning went 20-9 with a 3.55 ERA for the Reds, becoming the first rookie to win 20 games since the Yankees' Bob Grim in 1954. Browning finished the season with 11 consecutive wins--the longest streak by a Cincinnati pitcher in 30 years--and was named The Sporting News' NL Rookie Pitcher of the Year. He also finished second (behind Vince Coleman) in NL Rookie of the Year voting.
Browning was superstitious and did not shave between starts. As a result, he was often photographed with a four-day stubble. He also wore red underwear on the days he pitched.
Browning would go on to post double-digit win totals for seven straight seasons and consistently ranked among the league leaders in starts, innings pitched, and shutouts. One of his best seasons came in 1988, when he went 18-5 with a 3.41 ERA and teamed with 23-game-winner Danny Jackson.
On September 16, 1988, Browning pitched the 12th perfect game in baseball history. In a 1-0 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers at Riverfront Stadium, Browning threw 70 of 102 pitches for strikes and did not run the count to three balls on a single batter. The first left-hander to pitch a perfect game since Sandy Koufax's perfect game in 1965, Browning remains the only Reds player to pitch a perfect game. Three months earlier, on June 6, 1988, Browning had a bid for a no-hitter broken up by Tony Gwynn, who singled with one out in the ninth.
Browning just missed becoming the first pitcher to hurl two perfect games, taking another bid into the ninth on July 4, 1989, against the Philadelphia Phillies at Veterans Stadium; a lead-off double by Dickie Thon broke up this attempt. After his 1988 perfect game, Reds owner Marge Schott put a clause in his contract that stated his wife, Debbie, would receive a $300,000 bonus if he pitched another perfect game in 1989; the National League office eventually nixed the clause.
In 1990, the Reds went to the postseason for the first and only time in Browning's career. He won 15 games that season and picked up a key win over the Pittsburgh Pirates in Game 2 of the National League Championship Series. The Reds would meet the heavily favored Oakland A's in the World Series that year, but thanks in part to Browning's victory in Game 3, the Reds pulled off an unlikely sweep to become world champions. "That 1990 season was, without a doubt, the most enjoyable season of baseball I has ever been a part of," he said.
Browning's wife went into labor late in Game 2 of the World Series. Browning left the stadium to be with his wife at the hospital. However, as the game entered extra innings and Piniella realized his pitcher was absent, the Reds called the announcers and had them issue a statement on radio and TV asking Browning to return to the ballpark in case he had to pitch. While Browning did hear the message, he stayed with his wife. The Reds won in the 10th inning.
Browning battled injuries from 1991 to 1993--going 27-26--but earned a spot on the 1991 All-Star team after a 10-4 start to the season. Two years later on July 7, 1993, he sneaked out of Wrigley Field during a Reds-Cubs game and spent one-half inning with fans on the rooftop of 3643 North Sheffield Avenue in full uniform in one of baseball's most legendary pranks. The gag earned Browning a $500 fine from Reds manager Davey Johnson.
Browning entered the 1994 season healthy. However, during a start in San Diego on May 9, 1994, Browning's arm broke while delivering a pitch to Archi Cianfrocco. The injury was gruesome, with spectators and television viewers able to see Browning's arm separate from his shoulder, and hearing a "pop!" sound simultaneously. The injury was extreme, and he was done for the season. He attempted a comeback with the Kansas City Royals in 1995, pitching in two games at the major-league level, but he decided to take the season off and to continue rehabbing his arm. He entered camp with the Royals again in 1996 but retired before the season began.
In December 2005, Browning led fan balloting wire-to-wire to become a 2006 Reds Hall of Famer.
In February 2006, new Reds CEO Bob Castellini invited Browning to spring training as a special instructor. He broadcast Dayton Dragons (a Class-A affiliate of the Reds) games during the 2006 season and was the pitching coach for the Dragons' 2012 and 2015 seasons.
In 2007, Browning was named the pitching coach for the Reds' Rookie Advanced level Billings Mustangs farm club.
On March 30, 2009, Browning was arrested for non-payment of child support and was held on $99,008.36 bail.
On February 27, 2018, Browning and his three sons purchased Bart's on York, a small bar located in northern Kentucky, across the river from Great American Ballpark. The bar has been registered under the name Browning's on York; the official name change occurred on the 2018 Reds opening day.