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Cincinnati honors 'Mr. Perfect'

Cincinnati honors 'Mr. Perfect'

CINCINNATI -- Even now, former Reds left-hander Tom Browning remains one of the most popular pitchers to ever work on a mound in Cincinnati.

The lefty was part of a World Series winner, won 20 games and was often a character. His mid-game excursion to a Sheffield Ave. rooftop during a Reds-Cubs matchup at Wrigley Field remains legend.

But first and foremost, Browning is still "Mr. Perfect."

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Tuesday marked the 20th anniversary of Browning's Sept. 16, 1988, perfect game -- a 1-0 win over the Dodgers. The Reds marked the feat by giving out Browning bobbleheads to fans at Great American Ball Park.

While he wore a red No. 32 jersey, Browning was also honored on the field with a tribute and threw out a ceremonial first pitch to first-base coach and former teammate Billy Hatcher. Earlier, Browning had signed autographs at the Reds Hall of Fame and Museum.

"It's neat to relive it," Browning said during a press conference. "It's not my proudest moment. It's certainly my greatest moment individually. I'm more proud of the world championship we had in 1990. I think it's terrible it's been 20 years. I can't believe how fast those 20 years went. I'll tell everyone until my dying day that I'd give all that stuff back to try and do it again. That's how much I enjoyed playing and how fast it went."

At the time, Browning was just the 12th pitcher to ever throw a perfect game. A total of 17 are now part of the exclusive club. He remains the only Reds pitcher to ever be perfect and the last one to record a no-hitter.

Browning's favorite overall memory from the night he retired all 27 batters was that it came against a National League West rival.

"I enjoyed pitching against the Dodgers more than any other team I pitched against," Browning said. "I grew up a Reds fan, so I grew up a Dodger hater. I didn't need any extra motivation to pitch against the Dodgers. Anything special against the Dodgers was a thrill for me."

Browning was 123-90 lifetime with a 3.94 ERA from 1984-95 during a career where all but two outings were with the Reds. This season, he spent his first year as a pitching coach with the Reds' Rookie level farm team in Billings, Mont.

As Browning pitched to perfection, only remnants of the announced crowd of 16,591 fans were still at Riverfront Stadium. A two-hour, 27-minute rain delay had pushed the start time of the game past 10 p.m. ET.

"I don't know how many fans were at that game," Browning said. "I'm sure there weren't many there. I will say this -- it sounded like 50,000 at the end of the game. Danny Jackson got me a bottle of champagne. I joke that I got every single person in the stands wet from that bottle of champagne."

Despite the sparse crowd and late hour of the historical game, fans continually tell Browning they were at the game or watched on television or listened on radio. There was no local TV carrying the game that night.

"I've met a lot. I tell everyone they had a legitimate excuse for that they left, or didn't come at all, or they came and stayed," Browning said. "Kevin Youkilis, the third baseman from the Red Sox, was at the game. Ken Griffey Jr. was there, and he left to go and hang out with his buddies. It's funny people remember certain instances of their life when it took place. People tell me what they were doing. I was doing a show the other night with [former Bengals kicker] Jim Breech, and he told me he was going to the store to get milk, and he got in his car and stayed in his car to listen to the rest of the game before he took off to go back home.

"That's kind of neat you've made some impression on people from one special moment."

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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