Welcome to Better Know An Umpire, an effort to educate ourselves on the human elements who have ultimate decision-making power over some 2,500 Major League Baseball games a year. (All cumulative statistics are through the 2011 season, unless otherwise stated.)
Name: Eric Cooper
Uniform number: 56
Height/weight: 5-foot-10, 215 pounds
First year as MLB umpire: 1996
Total MLB games worked through 2011: 1,860 (home plate: 464)
Previous experience: Appalachian League, Midwest League, Florida State League, Eastern League, American Association, Pacific Coast League
Career ejections: 55
No-hitters called: Three (Hideo Nomo: 2001; Mark Buehrle: 2007, 2009)
Over/under record (1999-2011): 214-203
Hated in: Detroit, Atlanta, Houston
Claim to fame: Calling Hideo Nomo's no-hitter on April 4, 2001.
Scouting report from Major League Umpires' Performance, 2007-2010, by Andy Goldblatt:
Eric Cooper is allergic to walks. ... [The] combination of a low walk rate and an increasing strikeout rate gives him the ninth-largest strike zone of all active umpires. ... His lifetime ejection rate is over three percent, well above average.
Scouting report from an angry message board commenter:
I can't remember all that many beanball wars before MLB decided that they needed to step in for no reason and start warning everyone on every inside pitch. ... Unless, of course, the umpire is Eric Cooper and then everyone can go headhunting and still not be ejected because the warning is just lip service. Just ridiculous.
Average K/9 (2011): 14.2
Average BB/9 (2011): 5.1
True fact: Rings a bell and collects donations for the Salvation Army every holiday season.
On umpiring: "Officiating those [no-hitters] was very intense. When everyone in the stands starts to realize something special could happen in the later innings, you see everyone standing and can literally feel the pressure. At that time, you just have to take a deep breath and call the best game you can and as fair as possible."
Strike 3 call:
To check out other installments of Better Know An Umpire, click here.