DES MOINES, Iowa — Major League Baseball umpire and Iowa native Eric Cooper has died.
Sunday afternoon, Commissioner Rob Manfred announced the news that the 21-year veteran had died at the age of 52. According to ESPN, Cooper died after having a blood clot. ESPN reported he had been recovering at his father’s home in Iowa after undergoing knee surgery earlier this week.
Manfred said in a statement, “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,” said Manfred.
Cooper played baseball at Des Moines Hoover High School and later graduated from Iowa State University. He leaves behind a wife and two sons.
Major League Baseball lists these career achievements:
CAREER: Became a member of the Major League staff in 1999…worked the 2015-17 AL Wild Card Game; Division Series (2003, 2005-06, 2008-09, 11-14); the 2004-17 NLCS; the 2014 World Series; and the 2005 All-Star Game…worked the San Juan, Puerto Rico round of the 2009 World Baseball Classic, and the 2017 WBC…has been the home plate umpire for three no-hitters – including both by former White Sox southpaw Mark Buehrle – which is tied for the most among all active Major League umpires…was behind the dish when Boston’s Hideo Nomo tossed a no-hitter vs. Baltimore (4/6/01); when Buehrle blanked Texas (4/18/07); and when Buehrle recorded his perfect game vs. Tampa Bay (7/23/09)…worked Cal Ripken Jr.’s last Major League game (10/6/01)…worked 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).