Tom Browning Out in Right Field

Haven’t read it, but I might have to go find it. Browning seems to be my kind of guy.

Tom Browning was an average major-league pitcher who played for the Cincinnati Reds from 1984 to 1994 and the Kansas City Royals for a few games in 1995. As a rookie in 1985, he set a major-league record by being the only rookie pitcher ever to win 20 games in his first season, but he wasn’t particularly good as he did have a 3.55 ERA (107 ERA+) and a 2.12 K/BB ratio. In 1988, Browning became the first Cincinnati Red to throw a perfect game, which is odd considering how old the franchise is, on September 16th. A year later on Independence Day, he almost threw another one before losing it in the ninth. He pitched several more years and helped the Reds win the 1990 World Series, but after a nasty shoulder injury in 1994, he was done.

But one of the more interesting things he did was actually in 1993. On July 7th, the Cincinnati Reds were playing the Chicago Cubs in Wrigley Field. At the time, the buildings past the outfield fence had started to add unofficial bleachers to the tops of the buildings for people to watch the game. It became a legal matter when the tenants started charging money to sit up there, but not all of them charged. Why does this matter? Because Browning decided to watch a game from up there.

He went to a Sheffield Street building (out to right field) in his full uniform, and he watched the game while dangling his feet off the edge. Before the game, Browning told the pitchers to be on the look-out for him, but they had little idea he would pull that stunt. How he got out of the stadium and to the top of the building without anyone (players, coaches, security, or fans) noticing is a mystery, but Browning was apparently a sneaky man (he wore a suit over his uniform to get across the street, but you figure someone would have noticed before he left the stadium).

Apparently, he tried to make it to the top of the scoreboard in center field but was unable, and therefore, he headed to the building across the street. While up there, a few fans offered to buy him some hot dogs and beer, but he declined.

Manager Davey Johnson stated that he didn’t know Browning had done it until after the game, but if the players realized during the third inning what happened, I think Johnson probably figured it out as well. Johnson went on to fine Browning, but because the fine was a whole $500, he didn’t seem too upset. I imagine everyone thought it was pretty funny.

Fun story, and I’d like to think Lar from Wezen-Ball for sending me the story. Below is the newspaper article (I couldn’t find a link), but the best story of the day might be the one at the bottom of the article.

Copyright USA Today Information Network Jul 8, 1993

MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL; BEHIND THE SEAMS; BASEBALL’S ODDS & OFFBEAT

Instead of “Where’s Waldo?,” the Cincinnati Reds played “Where’s Tom?” in Wednesday’s 4-3 win against Chicago at Wrigley Field.

Pitcher Tom Browning told teammates to look for him in the third inning but wouldn’t say where.

Come the third inning, and – lo and behold – Browning was spotted on the rooftop of a brownstone on Sheffield Avenue behind Wrigley Field’s right-field bleachers.

Yes, the game was in progress, and yes, Browning, who last pitched Sunday, was in full uniform. He’d worn a warm-up suit over his attire to travel across the street incognito.

“It was kind of neat to have that available at a major league park, to be able to sit across the street and watch a game,” Browning said after he’d come to ground level and back to Wrigley.

“They (the fans watching from the roof) offered me a couple of beers and a hot dog, but I said `no.’ “

Browning actually had intended to climb into the ballpark’s manually operated scoreboard in center field but couldn’t get in.

“I told my pitchers to look for me in the third inning, and I’m not going to tell anybody where,” said Browning, who did tip off Tim Belcher.

Cameras caught Browning with his legs dangling off roof, waving his Reds cap. But manager Davey Johnson didn’t find out about the escapade until after the game. “Maybe he wanted to be a fan,” Johnson said. “I’d hate to think what we’d be like, if we were in a tight pennant race. We’d all be crazy.”

Johnson then called Browning into his office, saying the pitcher would “make a contribution,” (read pay a fine) in return for his fun.

Browning didn’t care. He loved being a bleacher bum in – or slightly out of – Wrigley.

“I had fun,” said Browning. “I think baseball is at its purest here.” – Carrie Muskat

CRUISIN’: Atlanta’s Terry Pendleton couldn’t wait to show off his new toy to his teammates. He arrived at Fulton County Stadium this week driving a new Ford Cobra, a replica of the ’67 original.

He didn’t keep it secret that he was dying to show it off.

“I just love that car,” he said. “I love the curve and the waves on it.”

Pendleton ordered the car from Unique Motor Cars in Gadsden, Ala., then had Ernie Elliott, brother of NASCAR racer Bill Elliott, build an engine.

Which means the car will go pretty fast. How fast? Pendleton won’t say exactly – and since the speed limit in most places he drives is 65, he won’t say, either, if he’s taken the car to its limit.

THE LAST LAUGH: The security staff at Baltimore’s Memorial Stadium evened a score with New Britain (Conn.) Red Sox infielder Scott Bethea last week.

During a rain delay in a Class AA Eastern League game against the Bowie (Md.) Baysox May 16, Bethea pulled street clothes over his uniform, ran onto the field from the stands and slid on the infield tarp a la former Orioles catcher Rick Dempsey.

Bethea then sprinted to the visiting bullpen and shed the street clothes. When security arrived, he pointed vaguely and told them, “I just saw him go that way.”

But when the Red Sox returned to Baltimore last Thursday, New Britain manager Jim Pankovits wanted to teach his infielder a lesson. He arranged with Jack Boehmer, director of stadium operations, for in-house security to “arrest” Bethea. They came into the locker room, put handcuffs on him and led him off.

As they were walking down a hallway, Pankovits asked Bethea what he thought of the dilemma. “What the hell am I supposed to think?” Bethea replied.

Said the manager: “I think you’re on Candid Camera.” – Mike Dodd

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2 Responses to “Tom Browning Out in Right Field”

  1. Bill Says:

    Wow, that's a great story. Nice write-up, and a good find by Lar. 🙂

  2. Ian Says:

    Browning was also famous for leaving a 1990 World Series game early because his wife was giving birth. He may have been an average pitcher, but he sure knew how to make people remember him.

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