Longtime MLB umpire Eric Cooper dead at 52

Eric Cooper, a veteran umpire with 20 years of experience in Major League Baseball, has died at age 52.

MLB commissioner Rob Manfred released a statement on Cooper’s death on Sunday.

“This is a very sad day across Major League Baseball. Eric Cooper was a highly respected umpire, a hard worker on the field and a popular member of our staff. He also served as a key voice of the MLB Umpires Association on important issues in our game. Eric was a consistent presence in the Postseason throughout his career, including in this year’s Division Series between the Yankees and the Twins. He was known for his professionalism and his enthusiasm, including for our international events.

“On behalf of Major League Baseball, I extend my deepest condolences to Eric’s family, friends and all of his fellow Major League Umpires. We will honor Eric’s memory during the World Series. Eric will be missed by the entire Baseball family.”

Cooper, an Iowa native, had witnessed some incredible baseball moments in his two decades as an umpire. According to the Des Moines Register, he was the home plate umpire for two no-hitters and one perfect game: he witnessed Hideo Nomo’s no-hitter from that prime location, and was behind the plate for Mark Buehrle’s no-hitter and his perfect game. He was also behind the plate for an important baseball moment: Cal Ripken Jr.’s very last MLB game in 2001.

Cooper also received a number of prestigious assignments during his career. He worked the 2005 All-Star Game just six years after he started umpiring in the majors, and nine years later worked the 2014 World Series. He also was on the umpiring staff for the World Baseball Classic in 2009 and 2013.

In all, the Register reported that Cooper had worked three wild-card games, 10 division series, four league championship series, and the 2014 World Series. Cooper had most recently worked the American League Division Series between the New York Yankees and the Minnesota Twins.

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