Tom Browning, the former Cincinnati Reds pitcher who threw the only perfect game in the franchise’s history, died on December 19, 2022, at the age of 62. His death came just nine months after he lost his wife, Deborah “Debbie” Browning, who passed away in March 2022 at the age of 61. The cause of Debbie’s death was not made public by the family, but it was a devastating blow for Tom and their five children.
A Long and Loving Marriage
Tom and Debbie got married in 1986, the same year that Tom made his MLB debut with the Reds. They had five children together: Tiffany, Tanner, Tucker, Trevor, and Tianna. Debbie was a homemaker and a member of the Faith Community Pharmacy, according to her obituary. She was also a supportive and devoted partner to Tom, who had a successful 12-year career in the major leagues.
One of the most memorable moments of their marriage was when Tom had to leave the 1990 World Series game to be with Debbie for the birth of their son Tucker. Tom ignored his team’s calls to return to the game and drove his wife to the hospital, where he witnessed his son’s arrival. Luckily, the Reds went on to win the World Series that year, giving Tom a double celebration.
A Sudden and Shocking Death
Tom’s death was unexpected and shocking for his family, friends, and fans. He was found unresponsive and not breathing at his home in Union, Kentucky, around 1 p.m. on December 19, 2022. Deputies and EMS personnel tried to resuscitate him, but he was pronounced dead at 1:13 p.m. The Boone County Sheriff’s Office said that no foul play was suspected, but the cause of death was not revealed.
Tom’s death came just four months after he was arrested on a DUI charge in August 2022. He was pulled over by a police officer after he was seen driving erratically and crossing the center line. He failed a field sobriety test and refused a breathalyzer test. He was booked into the Boone County Detention Center and released on bond.
A Legendary and Beloved Pitcher
Tom was best known for his remarkable pitching performance on September 16, 1988, when he threw the 12th perfect game in MLB history against the Los Angeles Dodgers. He retired all 27 batters he faced, striking out seven and throwing only 102 pitches. He became the first National League pitcher to achieve the feat since 1880 and the only Reds pitcher to do so ever.
Tom was also a key member of the 1990 Reds team that won the World Series, sweeping the Oakland Athletics in four games. He was an All-Star in 1991 and won 123 games in his career, ranking fourth in Reds history. He spent 11 seasons with the Reds and one with the Kansas City Royals, before retiring in 1995 due to a fractured humerus bone in his left arm.
Tom was affectionately nicknamed “Mr. Perfect” by his fans and teammates, who paid tribute to him on social media after his death. The Reds also released a statement, saying that Tom was “a true Red who after his playing days made the Cincinnati area his home and remained heavily involved with the organization”.
Tom Browning was a legend on the mound and a loving husband and father off the field. His wife Debbie was his soulmate and his biggest supporter. Their deaths have left a void in the hearts of many who knew and admired them. They will be dearly missed and fondly remembered.