William Walker Cooper January 8, 1915 – April 11, 1991 was an American professional baseball player He was a catcher in Major League Baseball who played for six National League teams from 1940 to 1957 He was known as one of the top catchers in baseball during the 1940s and early 1950s His elder brother Mort, a right-handed pitcher, was a three-time 20-game winner and three-time NL All-Star
- 1 Professional career
- 2 Career statistics
- 3 Managing career
- 4 See also
- 5 References
- 6 External links
Professional careerCooper with the Cardinals
A native of Atherton, Missouri, Cooper was a solid defensive catcher as well as a strong hitter, making the National League All-Star team every year from 1942 to 1950 After being stuck in the Cardinals' talent-rich farm system in the late 1930s, he finally broke in with the team in late 1940 at age 25 and reportedly complained to umpire Beans Reardon about the first pitch he saw; but a broken collarbone limited his play to 68 games in 1941 On August 30 of that year, Cooper caught Lon Warneke's no-hitter In 1942 he batted 281, finishing among the National League's top ten players in slugging, doubles and triples as St Louis won the pennant by two games; brother Mort won the Most Valuable Player Award Batting fifth, he hit 286 in the World Series against the defending champion New York Yankees, driving in the winning run in Game 4 and scoring the winning run on Whitey Kurowski's home run in the ninth inning of the final Game 5; he then picked Joe Gordon off second base with no outs in the bottom of the ninth inning, as the team earned its first title in eight years
In 1943 he raised his average to a career-high 318, and was third in the National League in batting and slugging and fifth in RBI, as the Cardinals repeated as league champions; he was runnerup in the Most Valuable Player Award vote to teammate Stan Musial In the 1943 World Series he batted 294 as the clean-up hitter, but St Louis lost the rematch with the Yankees In 1944 his average dipped only slightly to 317 as the Cardinals won their third straight pennant, facing the crosstown St Louis Browns in the World Series; again batting cleanup, he hit 318 in the Series and scored the team's first run in the final Game 6, and the Cardinals won another title World War II service in the Navy led him to appear in only four games in 1945, and before his return the New York Giants purchased his contract following a salary dispute in January 1946; the sale by the Cardinals for $175,000 $2,196,160 today was the highest cash-only deal ever to that time; the transactions of Joe Cronin in 1934 and Dizzy Dean in 1938 were larger deals, but also involved other players
Cooper enjoyed his most productive season at the plate in 1947, when he hit 305 and compiled career highs in home runs 35, RBI 122, runs 79, hits 157 triples 8 and games 140; the Giants set a new major league record with 221 home runs In that season, Cooper homered in six consecutive games to tie a record set by George Kelly in 1924 After Leo Durocher became Giants manager in 1948, he began revamping the team to emphasize speed, and Cooper was traded to the Cincinnati Reds on June 13, 1949 for fellow catcher Ray Mueller after starting the year hitting 211 Three weeks later, on July 6, Cooper became the only catcher in major league history, and one of only eleven players, to have hit 10 or more RBI in a single game; he was 6-for-7, including three home runs and five runs That year, he also led National League catchers in assists for the only time in his career In May 1950 he was traded to the Boston Braves, where he caught Vern Bickford's no-hitter on August 11 of that year He remained with the Braves through their 1953 move to Milwaukee, batting over 300 in his first two seasons with the club Cooper holds the distinction of being the last man to come to bat at Boston's Braves Field, flying out to Brooklyn's Andy Pafko
Cooper signed with the Pittsburgh Pirates before the 1954 season but was let go in May after hitting only 200; he was picked up by the Chicago Cubs, and hit well as a backup catcher and pinch-hitter through 1955 He then returned to St Louis to spend his last two seasons as a Cardinal, ending his career in October 1957 After his daughter, Sara Miss Missouri 1957, married Cardinals second baseman Don Blasingame, he noted, "It's time to quit when you've got a daughter old enough to marry a teammate"
In an eighteen-year major league career, Cooper played in 1,473 games, accumulating 1,341 hits in 4,702 at bats for a 285 career batting average along with 173 home runs, 812 runs batted in, and a 464 slugging percentage He led National League catchers three times in range factor, twice in caught stealing percentage, and once in assists, finishing with a 977 career fielding percentage One of the sport's strongest players in his prime, at the end of his career he ranked among the top five National League catchers in career batting average 285, slugging average 464, home runs 173 and runs batted in 812 He also batted 300 over three World Series with the St Louis Cardinals from 1942 to 1944 as the team won two championships, and ranked tenth in National League history in both games 1,223 and putouts 5,166 behind the plate when he retired During his career, he set a record by hitting grand slams with five different teams a mark subsequently tied by Dave Kingman and Dave Winfield His 464 slugging average then placed him behind only Roy Campanella 500 and Gabby Hartnett 489 among players with 1,000 National League games as a catcher, and his 173 HRs and 812 RBI put him behind only Campanella 242, 856, Hartnett 236, 1,179, and Ernie Lombardi 190, 990 His older brother, Mort Cooper, was a National League pitcher and his teammate for the first few years of his career, and his son-in-law, Don Blasingame, also was a major leaguer
After his playing career, he managed the Indianapolis Indians 1958–59 and Dallas-Fort Worth Rangers 1961 of the Triple-A American Association and was a coach for the 1960 Kansas City Athletics, before leaving the game
Walker Cooper died in Scottsdale, Arizona at age 76
- List of St Louis Cardinals coaches
- List of Major League Baseball single-game hits leaders
- ^ a b c d e f g Walker Cooper at Baseball Reference
- ^ a b c d e Harris, Don June 1990 Walker Cooper Looks Back on an All-Star Career Baseball Digest pp 69–72 Retrieved 2010-02-17
- ^ http://wwwbaseball-referencecom/boxes/CIN/CIN194108300shtml
- ^ 1942 National League Batting Leaders at Baseball Reference
- ^ 1942 National League Most Valuable Player Award voting results at Baseball Reference
- ^ 1942 World Series at Baseball Reference
- ^ 1942 World Series Game 5 box score at Baseball Reference
- ^ 1943 National League Batting Leaders at Baseball Reference
- ^ 1943 National League Most Valuable Player Award voting results at Baseball Reference
- ^ 1944 World Series at Baseball Reference
- ^ a b c d Walker Cooper Trades and Transactions at Baseball Almanac
- ^ August 11, 1950 Dodgers-Braves box score at Baseball Reference
- ^ Lewis, Franklin July 1945 They Don't Want to be Catchers Baseball Digest pp 1–2 Retrieved 2009-05-08
- ^ Walker Cooper post-season statistics at Baseball Reference
- ^ Walker Cooper Minor league manager record at Baseball Reference
- Baseball: The Biographical Encyclopedia 2000 Kingston, New York: Total/Sports Illustrated ISBN 1-892129-34-5
- Career statistics and player information from Baseball-Reference
- profile and career highlights Baseball Library
- Walker Cooper Looks Back on an All-Star Career, Baseball Digest, June 1990
|1 Whitey Kurowski 2 Buddy Blattner 3 Jimmy Brown 4 Marty Marion 5 Ray Sanders 6 Stan Musial 7 Creepy Crespi 8 Terry Moore 9 Enos Slaughter 10 Harry Walker 12 Johnny Hopp 13 Mort Cooper NL MVP 14 Gus Mancuso 15 Walker Cooper 16 Ken O'Dea 17 Erv Dusak 18 Lon Warneke 19 Harry Gumbert 20 Coaker Triplett 21 Johnny Beazley 22 Murry Dickson 23 Max Lanier 24 Clyde Shoun 27 Howie Pollet 28 Ernie White 29 Howie Krist 32 Sam Narron 34 Bill Lohrman 35 Whitey Moore|
|Manager 30 Billy Southworth Coaches 25 Mike González 26 Buzzy Wares|
|1 Whitey Kurowski 3 Emil Verban 4 Marty Marion NL MVP 5 Ray Sanders 6 Stan Musial 7 George Fallon 8 Danny Litwhiler 9 Debs Garms 11 Freddy Schmidt 12 Johnny Hopp 13 Mort Cooper 15 Walker Cooper 16 Ken O'Dea 17 Augie Bergamo 20 Blix Donnelly 21 Max Lanier 27 Bud Byerly 28 Ted Wilks 29 Al Jurisich 31 Harry Brecheen|
|Manager 30 Billy Southworth Coaches 25 Mike González 26 Buzzy Wares|
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