Major League Baseball umpire Eric Cooper, and his wife, were driving home from a movie in West Des Moines, Iowa when Joe Torre, the league’s executive vice president for baseball operations, called him. He almost crashed his car.
“I picked it up and he said, ‘Hey, Coop, it’s Joe Torre. How are you?’” Cooper told the Des Moines Register. “I said, ‘Well, I just about wrecked the car when I saw the area code.’ Mr. Torre said to pull the car over and put it into park. He said, ‘How would you like to work the World Series this year?’”
Cooper, who has been an MLB umpire since 1999, will work the World Series for the first time. Game 1 between the San Francisco Giants and the Kansas City Royals is Tuesday night on FOX.
Cooper is one of four World Series first-timers on the seven-man crew. MLB chose him, in part, because of his success rate under the expanded replay system. He had just three calls reversed by replay this season.
Cooper has umpired in eight Division Series, one League Championship Series, one All-Star Game, and one World Baseball Classic.
He’s also the kind of umpire who goes by the book. Check out this 2013 video from MLB where Cooper and former Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher A.J. Burnett— who now plays fro the Philadelphia Phillies—get into it.
Cooper witnessed baseball history being made. He was the home plate umpire when the Toronto Blue Jays’ Mark Buehrie pitched a perfect game against the Tampa Bay Rays in 2009 and a no-hitter against the Texas Rangers in 2007.
Cooper was the third base umpire at the very last baseball game at the old Yankee Stadium.
But the call from Torre to work the World Series is very special.
“I was pretty emotional,” Cooper said. “Mr. Torre suggested my wife drive the rest of the way home. So I hugged my wife, we switched seats, and she drove.”
Eric Cooper is going to experience his own “Field of Dreams.”