Tom Browning, the Cincinnati Reds pitcher who authored the only perfect game in team history, died on Monday at 62. He was found unresponsive on his couch and emergency responders attempted to resuscitate him but were unsuccessful. He was pronounced dead at 1:13 p.m.
Tom’s passing was a devastating loss for the Cincinnati Reds and their fans. He was a popular member of the Reds organization who remained very active in charitable efforts and community events.
The former right-hander was a fixture at annual events like Redsfest, the caravan tour and the Reds Community Fund. He also managed a local independent baseball team and was an assistant pitching coach for the Reds’ farm system.
A storied career in the Major Leagues made him a favorite of many fans. He was a runner-up for National League Rookie of the Year in 1985, and finished sixth in Cy Young voting that season. He was an All-Star in 1991 and pitched a perfect game in 1988 at Riverfront Stadium.
He made it all the way to the big leagues despite his home state not having much to offer in terms of baseball. He was born in Casper, Wyoming and attended high school in Utica, New York, before going to college at Le Moyne College and then Tennessee Wesleyan University.
After signing with the Reds in 1982, he made his MLB debut the following year. He won 20 games and a 3.55 ERA during his first full season as a starter. He was a NL All-Star in 1987, and won a World Series as a member of the Reds in 1990.
His 15-game victory streak in 1990 helped the Reds win their first World Series since 1986, and it was one of the most memorable postseasons in baseball history. He was also a runner-up for the Cy Young Award and was named to the All-Star Team.
As a pitcher, he was known for his quick release and command of the strike zone. He was a fan favorite who always took his role as the team’s closer seriously.
During his career, Browning earned the nickname “Mr. Perfect.” He was a favorite with his fans and was the only Reds pitcher to pitch a perfect game, according to an article in the Cincinnati Enquirer.
He also had a knack for making fun of himself and his teammates. He once walked out of Wrigley Field during a game in 1993 and sat on a rooftop in full uniform with Reds fans. That stunt cost him $500 in fines from then-manager Davey Johnson.
After his retirement, he worked as a pitching coach in the Reds’ farm system and was an avid supporter of the Reds Community Fund and the Reds Hall of Fame. He also coached the Florence Freedom, an independent minor league team, in 2003 and 2004.
He died Monday at 62 years old in Union, Kentucky. He was pronounced dead after Boone County Sheriff’s deputies and emergency responders arrived at his home and found him unresponsive on the couch. He was resuscitated several times by deputies and emergency medical personnel, but he was not able to breathe again.