Louis Rogers Browning

Cause of Death
Louisville, Kentucky April 21, 2010


The beautiful Cave Hill Cemetery in Louisville,                                             Pete Browning. In 1884, the
Kentucky. Residents inside include Patty Hill,                                               first ever Louisville Slugger
Pete Browning, and Colonel Sanders.                                                          baseball bat was made for him.


Browning played professional baseball for                                 His popular nickname was "The Gladiator."
thirteen seasons, most of them in Louisville.

                                       *** Interesting Facts *** 

* Born on June 17, 1861, Pete Browning was the youngest of his parents' eight children. He grew up in the city of Louisville, where his father, a grocer, was killed by a cyclone when Pete was thirteen. From an early age, Browning showed an interest in baseball. Rather than doing his schoolwork, Browning would go out to the commons and play ball with his friends. He was quite good at baseball, and was also adept at skating and shooting marbles, all of which truly impressed those who knew Browning during this period in his life. Unfortunately, he was a longtime sufferer of mastoiditis, the infection of the mastoid process in the skull, which resulted in a severe loss of hearing for Browning.

* In 1877, when Browning was just fifteen years old, he began playing for the Louisville Eclipse, a semipro baseball team. The youth's first appearance ended with a dismal 22-1 loss, but Browning soon proved to be a terrific player. In 1882, Browning became a pro-baller when his team joined the American Association, a professional baseball league, in 1882. While in the pros, Browning became known as a great power hitter and earned the moniker "The Gladiator". He was the batting champion of the Player's League twice and the American Association in 1885. Browning hit for the cycle twice, had 258 stolen bases in his career, and led the Player's League in doubles in 1890. His lifetime batting average was .341, the eleventh best in history. To this day, he is regarded as one of the best 19th century players not in the Baseball Hall of Fame.

* Like most baseball players, Pete Browning was known for his superstitions and bizarre rituals on the field. As an infielder, Browning would often be seen standing on one leg and extending his other when base runners approached him. He was was fearful that the runners would run into him and hurt him, but insisted that, if he stuck out his knee toward the runner and he ran into it, Browning would be fine, while his opponent would be put out of commission. When he was relocated to the outfield later in his career, he would stand on one leg when catching fly balls.

* Another thing Browning became notable for was being the first person to purchase a Louisville Slugger baseball bat. Once in 1884, the son of a woodworker attended a Louisville Eclipse game and watched their star, Pete Browning, who was in the midst of a slump. When Browning broke his bat during the game, the woodworker's son invited the player to his father's shop, where he crafted him a custom-made one. When Browning garnered three hits in his first game with the new bat, he told his teammates where he had procured it. Swarms of baseball players began requesting bats from the shop, but the owner, J.F. Hillerich, was reluctant to focus his efforts on making baseball equipment. However, his son eventually convinced him otherwise, and the two began selling Falls City Slugger baseball bats. When the son took over the business in 1894, the bats were renamed Louisville Sluggers, a homage to Browning. Over the course of the past hundred plus years, over 100 million Louisville Sluggers have been sold, making it the most popular baseball bat brand.

* A major issue that developed for Browning during his career was alcoholism, brought on by his mastoiditis. This condition brings much pain to those who have it, and Pete Browning turned to the bottle to dull this agony. He occasionally showed up inebriated on the playing field, but no drastic action was taken against Browning out of fear that fans would stop coming to games. However, in August of 1889, the Louisville Colonels (formerly the Eclipse) suspended their star for the remainder of the season. Jumping over to the Cleveland Infants the following year, Browning continued to play baseball and continued to drink. This and his ever-present mastoiditis were the leading causes in the deterioration of both his body and mind. In 1905, over ten years after his last baseball game, Browning was admitted to the Fourth Kentucky Lunatic Asylum after being declared insane. His sister removed him from there several weeks later. The following month, Browning underwent surgery to remove a tumor. After what had seemed like a promising recovery, he returned to the hospital in August. He slipped out once and went to his mother's house, but he was returned that night. When a growth was discovered on Browning's neck a scant few weeks later, he began to decline rapidly. All of his ailments caught up with him on September 10th, when he passed away surrounded by his family.

Spouse: None

Last Words:
Website Builder