Eric Richard Cooper (December 18, 1966 – October 20, 2019) was an American professional baseball umpire, whose Major League Baseball (MLB) career spanned 1999 until his death in October 2019. He wore umpire uniform number 56. As a Major League umpire, Cooper officiated in ten Division Series, four League Championship Series, three Wild Card Games, one All-Star Game, and one World Series.
Cooper in 2007
|Born: December 18, 1966|
Des Moines, Iowa
|Died: October 20, 2019 (aged 52)|
|June 17, 1996|
|October 7, 2019|
|Career highlights and awards|
Cooper graduated from Iowa State University with a degree in transportation logistics. He then attended the Joe Brinkman Umpire School, and spent several years as a Minor League Baseball (MiLB) umpire, working in the Appalachian League (1990), Midwest League (1991), Florida State League (1992), Eastern League (1993–94), American Association (1995–97) and Pacific Coast League (1998).
Cooper became a permanent Major League Baseball umpire beginning in 1999. He worked the Division Series (2003, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2009, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2019), the League Championship Series (2004, 2015, 2016, 2017), the Major League Baseball Wild Card Game (2015 and 2016, 2017), the 2014 World Series, and the 2005 All-Star Game. Cooper also worked the World Baseball Classic in 2009 and 2013.
Cooper was the home plate umpire for Hideo Nomo's no-hitter in 2001, and for Mark Buehrle's no-hitter against the Texas Rangers on April 18, 2007. Cooper was also behind the plate for Buehrle's subsequent perfect game, thrown in 2009. Cooper joined Ed Vargo as umpires who had called balls and strikes for two no-hitters by the same pitcher. At the time of Cooper’s death, he was one of only eight active major league umpires who have worked behind the plate for multiple no-hitters (the others being Jeff Kellogg, Ed Hickox, Ted Barrett, Adrian Johnson, Ron Kulpa, Brian Knight, and Greg Gibson).
Cooper was the plate umpire for the game on September 11, 2008, in which Francisco Rodriguez tied the major league single-season save record. Cooper was struck by a foul ball during the game, but was able to continue after a brief pause. Cooper was also the third base umpire in the last game played at the old Yankee Stadium in 2008.
Cooper, who was born in Des Moines, Iowa, was married to Tara Cooper and had two children.
On October 20, 2019, Cooper's death was announced by Major League Baseball; he died after developing a blood clot following knee surgery the week prior. On October 22, prior to Game 1 of the World Series, there was a moment of silence in memory of Cooper.
- "Eric Cooper". Retrosheet. retrosheet.org. 2018. Retrieved October 21, 2019.
- "Umpires: Eric Cooper - 56". MLB.com. Major League Baseball. 2019. Retrieved October 21, 2019.
- Pradhan, Shagun (October 18, 2011). "ISU graduate makes his way to Major League umpiring". iowastatedaily.com. Ames, Iowa: Iowa State Daily. Retrieved August 7, 2012.
- "Rangers vs. White Sox - Game Recap - Buehrle hurls no-hitter to lead ChiSox over Rangers". ESPN.com. ESPN. April 18, 2007. Retrieved October 21, 2019.
- "Rodriguez ties saves record in win over Mariners". KIMA TV. Associated Press. September 11, 2008. Archived from the original on December 20, 2013. Retrieved August 7, 2012.
- "Retrosheet Boxscore: New York Yankees 7, Baltimore Orioles 3". retrosheet.org. Retrosheet. September 21, 2008. Retrieved October 20, 2019.
- "MLB umpire Eric Cooper dies at 52". MLB.com. Major League Baseball. October 20, 2019. Retrieved October 20, 2019.
- Birch, Tommy (October 20, 2019). "Iowa native, veteran MLB umpire Eric Cooper dead at 52". desmoinesregister.com. Des Moines, Iowa: Des Moines Register. Retrieved October 20, 2019.
- "Eric Cooper, MLB umpire for 21 years, dies at 52". ESPN.com. ESPN. Associated Press. October 20, 2019. Retrieved October 20, 2019.
- "Moment of Silence for Eric Cooper". MLB. October 22, 2019. Retrieved October 27, 2019.