OBSERVATIONS: Tom Browning’s Memorable Moment

By Hal McCoy

UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave, still reeling and stunned by the death of former Cincinnati Reds pitcher Tom Browning.

—OTIS HISTORY: Tom Seaver wasn’t the only Tom Terrific. To me, Tom Browning was Tom Terrific, in every way.

People referred to him as Mr. Perfect because he pitched the only perfect game in Cincinnati Reds history. In some ways, that’s unfair. He is known only to the casual fan for that perfect game, but he was much, much more than that.

His real nicknames, ones used by his teammates, were Otis and Puggy.

Many thoughts flashed through my cluttered mind when I heard about his passing and one really stuck after I heard it.

I asked him one day about his best baseball memories and he did not mention the perfect game nor his win in Game 3 of the 1990 World Series. “One of my best memories,” he said, “was hitting a home run off Orel Hershiser. Now that was perfect.”

Spoken like a true pitcher.

Browning grew up in Casper, Wyoming, where they can play baseball about 22 days in a year. And he pitched at LeMoyne College in Syracuse, N.Y. where more often than not they had to shovel snow off the mound.

After his junior year, he quit LeMoyne and enrolled at Tennessee Wesleyan, a small NAIA school. For some reason, the University of Kentucky stopped by for a game. Did Browning pitch? Did he ever. He beat UK and struck out 15.

Fortunately for Browning and the Cincinnati Reds, UK coach Keith Madison was a bird dog scout for the Reds. He alerted the Reds about this left handed kid at Tennessee Wesleyan.

The Reds invited him to a pre-draft workout at Riverfront Stadium. The Reds drafted him on the ninth round, the 233rd player picked. Browning asked for $5,000. The Reds signed him for $3,500.

And the rest, as they say, was perfect history.

—ONE MISS: One of the finest man I’ve ever known and one of the all-time best baseball scouts told this story on himself involving Tom Browning.

His name is Carl Loewenstine and for years he was a scout for the Los Angeles Dodgers. On the night Browning pitched his perfect game against the Dodgers, he was seated in a private box with his general manager, Jamestown (O.) native Fred Claire.

“About the seventh inning, when we still didn’t have a hit, Fred turns to me and says, ‘Did you see this guy pitch in college?’”

Said Loewenstine, an honest man, “Yes, sir. I certainly did. I marked him as ‘no prospect.’”

Loewenstine, retired after signing many major leaguers and living near Hamilton, laughed and said, “I didn’t think I would live to see the next day.”

—CASH MONEY???: Want to buy majority interest in an NBA franchise? Dig deep. . .real deep. . .deeper.

Billionaire Mat Ishbia paid $4 billion to wedge his way in and that $4 billion only got him a little more than 50% ownership of the Phoenix Suns.
Well, the sellers did toss in the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury as part of the deal, for whatever that’s worth.

Shouldn’t $4 billion buy you downtown Phoenix? Well, at least Mesa.

Wonder if he has some loose change left in his pocket, about $1.075 billion? Forbes says that’s the estimated value of the Cincinnati Reds.

Somebody, anybody, please make an offer, one that current ownership can’t refuse. Where’s Don Vito Corleone when you need him?

—A GREEDY GUY: Sometimes just saying no is a time when you should just say yes.

Corey Youmans, the guy who caught Aaron Judge’s historic 62nd home run, put the ball up for auction and made $1.5 million.

Nice, huh? Well, before the auction he was offered $3 million and said no, believing the auction would pay more. So his greed cost him $1.5 million.

—QUOTE: From 6th century B.C. Chinese philosopher Lao-Tzu: “Loss is not as bad as wanting more.” (And ol’ Lao-Tzu never saw a baseball game.)

BLOW ME DOWN: Hurricane Ian did damage to baseball, too. The Category 4 storm heavily damaged the Tampa Bay Rays spring training complex in Port Charlotte, Fla, damages that can’t be repaired by spring training.

The Rays will split training time between the Walt Disney Complex in Lake Buena Vista and their home park in St. Petersburg, the Tropicana Mausoleum.

Too bad a hurricane didn’t damage Plant City Stadium when Cincinnati trained there so they could have fled to Sarasota sooner than they did.

The Plant City site was as austere as Attica Prison and there is no doubt the ball fields inside Attica were better than the soggy and lumpy Plant City diamonds.

STEALTHY METS: Just when I thought I was finished writing about New York Mets’ owner Steve Cohen spending money as if he was passing out Halloween candy, he did it again.

In the still of the night, when most of us were sleeping, the Mets swooped in and stole Carlos Correa away from the San Francisco Giants.

Correa agreed to a 13-year, $350 million deal with the Giants. But eight days later, when the Giants balked a bit over some perceived medical issues, the vampirish Mets stole him for 12 years at $315 million.

Correa is a shortstop, but the Mets already had their 10-year $341 million shortstop in Francisco Lindor. So the Mets are tearing a page from the New York Yankees playbook and moving Correa to third base.

The Yankees did it when they signed shortstop Alex Rodriguez when they already had shortstop Derek Jeter. So they moved A-Rod to third.

And mark this one down. Despite Cohen spending more money ($800 million. . .so far) than the gross national product of Ecuador, the Atlanta Braves or Philadelphia Phillies will win the National League Central in 2023.

—STILL AVAILABLE: Not sure what this means, other than maybe it says a lot about the make-up of last season’s Cincinnati Reds roster.

None of their free agents have been signed by other clubs. The list (and hold your applause until the end): Hunter Strickland, Mike Minor, Jeff Hoffman, Austin Romine, Donovan Solano and Justin Wilson.

4 thoughts on “OBSERVATIONS: Tom Browning’s Memorable Moment”

  1. Met Tom Browning once at Redsfest. He was one of the warmest, most personable people I have ever met, celebrity or otherwise.

  2. Had my ticket in my wallet from that game for years. One night The Reds (Hal Morris, Rob Dibble , Tom Browning and host of others. Came to Northmont HS to play a Fund Raiser. At halftime they all retired to cafeteria area to sign autographs. I was inline the whole time. Waiting for my turn. Time ran out. Halftime was over. They were all (Reds) headed back to play. I yelled out to Mr Browning “Tom, You got a minute to sign this Perfect Game Ticket”? He stopped dead. Yelled at Hal Morris “I Got To Sign this, I’ll Be Right There”!! Thanks For The Memories Mr Browning!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *