Eric Cooper, a major league umpire for two decades, has died unexpectedly at the age of 52.
— Mike Teevan (@MRTeevs) October 20, 2019
“This is a very sad day across Major League Baseball,” MLB commissioner Robert Manfred said in a statement released Sunday. “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, witnessed several key moments in baseball throughout his 20 years as an umpire. He was behind the plate for three no-hitters: one by Hideo Nomo in 2001 and two from Mark Buehrle in 2007 and 2009, with the latter being a perfect game. His three plate assignments were tied for most among active Major League umpires.
In addition to the no-hitters, Cooper was also behind the plate for Cal Ripken Jr.’s final game in 2001. According to the Des Moines Register, Cooper worked three wild card games, 10 Divsion Series, four League Championship Series, and the 2014 World Series. He also worked the 2005 All-Star Game in Detroit as well as the World Baseball Classic in 2009 and 2017, and the 2018 Japan All-Star Series.
He most recently worked the 2019 ALDS between the New York Yankees and Minnesota Twins.
h/t: MLB, Des Moines Register