CINCINNATI -- There is no shortage of personal and team excellence in former Reds pitcher Tom Browning's legacy with the club.
Browning was on Cincinnati's 1990 World Series championship squad. He pitched a perfect game on Sept. 16, 1988, won 20 games as a rookie in 1985 and went to an All-Star Game in 1991.
In 2008, it's been back to the beginning for Browning --- the very beginning. The 48-year-old has started his coaching career with the Reds at the lowest rung of the farm system at Billings, Mont. -- the Mustangs, a rookie-level affiliate in the Pioneer League. It's the same place where he started his playing career 26 years ago.
"We're 1,500 miles from everything -- nothing is going to happen fast here," said Browning, who was 123-90 with a 3.94 ERA in 12 seasons, 11 with the Reds.
It's definitely thousands of miles in every aspect of the Major League life. Browning is back to busing it with the young players -- some not even 21 yet -- in long trips around the league to places like Missoula, Great Falls, Idaho Falls and even his hometown, Casper, Wyo.
Like the kids, Browning, the pitching coach, stays with a host family. He's living in the basement at his sister's house. And he's loving every minute of the entire coaching experience to this point.
"It's exactly what I expected," Browning said. "It's first-year players in Billings, Mont. Guys still have their college attitudes here, but they came in with an idea of how to pitch. I don't claim to know everything. I watch and listen. I told them most of my education came from trial and error. They're pretty receptive to the program set up by the Reds and [former Reds pitching coach] Vern Ruhle when he was here."
Browning remained a fixture in the Cincinnati area and lived in Northern Kentucky after his 1996 retirement. He took a stab at managing with the Florence (Ky.) Freedom in an independent league a few years back. Maintaining ties to the Reds, he also served as a Spring Training instructor and club ambassador the past few years.
On the bus trips, Browning has bonded with the players. They've introduced him to the TV show "Entourage," which passes the time between cities. On and off the field, he's introduced them to what it takes to reach the Majors and shared his knowledge of pitching.
"It's helped me that I've had success at the big league level," Browning said. "It gives me credibility with the players in some regard. I enjoy what I do. It's about communicating and relating to the players. I tell them Major League Baseball is the greatest place in the world, because it is. They're on the bottom rung, and at what's the first stop towards hopefully a Major League career. I make all of them believe they have a chance.
"I invented nothing and I don't claim to know everything. I was a good listener and paid attention. I was fortunate to have been around some pretty good players and coaches."
Now, Browning is one of those coaches passing on what he knows to the next generation. Almost 20 years removed from his perfect game vs. the Dodgers, he sees it from the other side this time around. "Guys think they can conquer the world -- it's awesome," Browning said. "They're great kids. I'd trade places with them, with no guarantees, just for the opportunity to try it again."