Commissioner Robert Manfred issued the following statement today regarding the sudden passing of 21-year Major League Umpire Eric Cooper, who was 52:
“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 and a 1989 graduate of Iowa State University, joined the Major League staff in 1999 after beginning his Minor League career in 1990. He was behind the plate for three no-hitters in his career, including both feats by former Chicago White Sox left-hander Mark Buehrle as well as the 2001 no-hitter by Hideo Nomo of the Boston Red Sox. Cooper’s three plate assignments in no-hitters were tied for the most among the active Major League staff. He was also the home plate umpire for the final game in the career of Hall of Famer Cal Ripken Jr. in 2001. In his career Cooper worked three Wild Card Games; 10 Division Series, including the 2019 ALDS led by crew chief Gary Cederstrom; four League Championship Series; the 2014 World Series, when he was behind the plate in Game Two at Kansas City; and the 2005 All-Star Game at Detroit. Cooper also was a part of the World Baseball Classic in 2009 and 2017 and the 2018 Japan All-Star Series with Nippon Professional Baseball.