Tom Browning’s Perfect Game

Here’s an account of the perfect game thrown by Tom Browning on September 16 of 1988 (look at the comment for one fan’s memory of attending the game, and go here for about 20 seconds of footage from the game’s end):

Browning pitched the 14th perfect game in major league history last night, breezing past the Los Angeles Dodgers 1-0.

The 28-year-old left-hander (16-5) struck out seven and threw 102 pitches. The effort came in a game that started 2 hours and 27 minutes late because of rain.

“When I got to the eighth inning, I felt a little bit antsy,” said Browning. “I don’t know how to explain it. Everything fell my way.

“It was just one of those days where everything worked, and every ball was hit right at people.”

The 28-year-old left-hander found little conversation when he sat down next to catcher Jeff Reed in the Cincinnati Reds’ dugout Friday night, three outs away from a perfect game.

“I was trying to take it easy myself,” Reed said. “I wasn’t going to say anything about it, and he’s not going to say anything about it.”

So when Browning took the mound with a 1-0 lead against Los Angeles in the ninth inning and 16,591 fans screaming, he talked himself into staying calm.

“I just had to maintain my composure,” he said. “We were only one run up, and I didn’t want to give them a chance to get a rally together.

“I just kept talking to myself, saying what I needed to do – to maintain my composure, to move the ball in and out.”

Minutes later, he fired a fastball past pinch-hitter Tracy Woodson to complete the 14th perfect game in major-league history and set his teammates whooping.

He threw just 102 pitches, including first-pitch strikes to 21 batters. He didn’t go to three balls on a single batter and never got deeper than 2-1. He struck out seven and allowed just nine balls hit out of the infield. He threw 70 strikes and 32 balls.

Browning didn’t need any spectacular plays from his teammates, but they were there when he needed them on well-hit balls.

In the top of the fifth, the third baseman Chris Sabo went behind the bag to snag a hard hit grounder by Mike Marshall and threw him out by a half-step.

That was the closest any of the Dodgers got to a hit against the hard-throwing Browning who improved his record to 16-5.

“He threw what he wanted, when he wanted, where he wanted,” Reds manager Pete Rose said. “He pitched perfect. I guess that’s the best way to describe it.”

Moments after showering a group of fans with champagne, Browning conceded he “had the hitters guessing all night. I had them guessing one way and the other. When they guessed one way, I went the other way.”

Published in: on December 5, 2008 at 11:51 pm  Comments (2)  
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  1. I was at that game, in fact it was the first MLB game I had ever been too. Pulling up to the stadium that evening was quite depressing. It was raining and we had no tickets. My grandfather and uncle assured me the game would happen and we would find tickets. I was 9 years old and all I did was eat, sleep, and live Cincinnati Reds, needless to say I was very worried. We found some tickets in the upper deck and went in to find some cover from the rain. 2 1/2 hours later the grounds crew was rolling the trap up and we were about to play ball! Due to the huge rain delay most of the fans in the stadium had left, so here we go, sneaking down to the good seats. I was happy just being on the lower level, but we kept moving, row by row, toward the dugout. The next thing I knew we sitting right behind the dugout! I was so excited, there was all my heroes right in front of me! I do have to say, as a 9 year old this was a boring game, only 3 hits and 1 run. But by the end of the 7th inning everyone knew we were watching history happen. Pitch by pitch, batters kept falling off. When the final out was made it was like we just won the World Series! Everyone came rushing out on to the field and hoisted Tom Browning up in the air! He had done it! Tome Browning threw a perfect game! One thing that stands out in my mind was a fan running out on to the field and I believe, which I could be wrong, but John Franco landed a right hook to this guys jaw laying him out…as a kid i though it was great! My grandfather has passed away since then, but that game on September 16th 1988 was one of the best memories I have with my grandfather. Thanks for the great memory Tom!!

  2. Good story, but I also was at the game working for the Reds. I was actually on the dugout and there were two guys that jumped the rail right at Mrs. Schott’s seat. She had left the game, because of the rain delay. Many fans such as you and you grandfather were shooed from those seats. The guys that jumped on the field were taken down by the stadium director and police. Also Franco was a lefty……

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