Major League Baseball Umpire Eric Cooper Dead at 52

Cooper spent 21 years in the major leagues

Eric Cooper
Eric Cooper, pictured earlier this year officiating a game.
Bob Levey/Getty Images
By Tobias Carroll / October 21, 2019 6:00 am

Eric Cooper, an umpire with 21 years of experience in Major League Baseball, is dead at the age of 52. The league announced this sad news on Sunday afternoon, with Commissioner Robert Manfred hailing his experience and longtime presence in baseball. 

“Eric Cooper was a highly respected umpire, a hard worker on the field and a popular member of our staff,” Manfred said. “He also served as a key voice of the MLB Umpires Association on important issues in our game.”

Cooper was present for 3 no-hitters over the course of his career, as well as the final game played by Cal Ripken, Jr. He graduated from Iowa State University in 1989 and began his work as an umpire in Minor League Baseball the following year. In 1999, he began working in the major leagues. 

In 2013, Deadspin looked into the details of his career as an umpire, including spotlights on some of the most notable games he called. This also revealed an interesting bit of information as to his off-the-field activities — namely, that he worked raising money for the Salvation Army around the holidays each year.

In a 2011 profile in Iowa State Daily, Cooper looked back on how his collegiate experience — his degree was in transportation logistics — informed his career as an umpire. And he offered some insight on his experience at some higher-profile games.

“At that time, you just have to take a deep breath and call the best game you can and as fair as possible,” he said. That’s not a bad credo to live by, whatever your profession.

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