Wrigley 100 July 7: Browning’s Rooftop Visit

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On this day in 1993, Reds pitcher Tom Browning made headlines across the country when our WGN cameras caught him enjoying the action of a Cubs-Reds game from a rooftop across the street. Last summer, Tom was kind enough to share the story with me, a great caper that still cracks me up.

It was kind of in honor of Tony Perez. Tony had gotten the job that off-season and we as players, we were pretty excited because a lot of us had played with Tony and certainly had him as a coach. Or a few of us I should say had played with him, but we had him as a coach and we really wanted to play for him. It didn’t work out that way,

About that time we got into Chicago we were 25 guys going in 25 directions. I actually had talked to Bob Walk of the Pittsburgh Pirates and he had gotten in the scoreboard and he said man you have to get in the scoreboard and watch a game from there.  I tried to but they wouldn’t let me, so I started looking around during batting practice so I looked over at one of those buildings.  I said to Timmy Belcher, Belch was one of my teammates, I said maybe I can sneak over on one of those rooftops. After batting practice I went over and saw (visiting clubhouse manager) Tom Hellman in the clubhouse and I said do you know anybody that owns any of those buildings? He said yeah his name is George Loukas. I said , “THE George Lucas?” and he said no, a George Loukas. I said, “do you have his number and I said can you get him on the phone?” I called him and I said, “This is Tom Browning with the Reds and I just wanted to know if it would be OK if I came over and sat on one of your rooftops just for a half-inning or so.” He said, yeah that would be kind of cool and he said why don’t you meet me in front of Murphy’s Pub in the top of the 3rd inning. I said, “oh cool, OK.”

I sat in the bullpen for two innings and after the second inning was over, I got up and I said,  “Alright boys, look for me.” They said where are you going? I told them don’t worry you’ll find me.  So I went upstairs and I told Timmy Belcher, he was in the dugout, that I was on my way. He said good luck. I had a black sweatsuit on with my red turf shoes on and my Reds hat on because I told George that’s what I’d be wearing, so I got out and I met with the security guy to leave the building, to leave Wrigley Field. I told him I’ll be right back and he said ok.

I met George we walked down three or four buildings. We walked there, we walked up three flights of stairs and I got on the railing there. There was a landing below me so it wasn’t like I was on the edge of the roof so I got up there and I took my hat off, started waving my hat to my guys in the bullpen. They saw me and they stood up and waved back.

Browning roof

Timmy Pugh was pitching for us. While I was over there, Kevin Mitchell hit a three-run homer to give us the lead 4-3 and we won the ballgame 4-3. After the end of the game was over, I kind of completely forgot about it. We were in the clubhouse after the game and I was getting ready to get dressed. A reporter came up to me and said he’d like to talk to me about the trip across the street and about that time Davey Johnson tapped me on the shoulder and said, “Hey I need to talk to you in my office.” So I had to go to the principal’s office and he kind of berated me about it, what if I fell off the building and I kind of stopped him. I said you know what I did, these guys have kind of been going in 25 different directions. I did it for some levity and I think I accomplished that. You can fine me, just tell me what it is and we’ll leave it at that. I walked about of his office and he fined me I don’t remember if it was five hundred or a thousand and that’s what it was.

After about a week I called the Sun-Times to find out how I could get some copies of that shot of me on the rooftop. They charged me 45 bucks a picture!

-Bob Vorwald

Browning cartoon

 

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