2003 BYU Hall of Fame
“Coop, Coop, Coop" were the chants of fans for Gary Cooper, not the legendary Hollywood actor, rather BYU's baseball player extraordinaire.
And yet those chants even preceded him for someone else, Michael Cooper of the Los Angeles Lakers. The chants were well-deserved for BYU's Cooper who did things no one has done in the history of Cougar baseball.
For starters, the 6-1 outfielder stole more bases. Speaking of starters, he was one on BYU's No. 1 team in the nation in 1983 and he started nearly every of his 292 games as a Cougar, helping fashion records of 54-11 in 1983, 42-17 in 1984, 44-29 in 1985 and 34-18-2 in 1986.
Included in those records were NCAA Tournament appearances in Tempe, Ariz., in 1983 and Fresno, Calif., in 1985, Western Athletic Conference crowns both those seasons, and WAC division titles in 1983, 1984 and 1985. The product of Mountain View High in Orem set a BYU record of five stolen bases in one game in 1984.
He was named All-America First Team in 1985 and 1986. As a senior he was named WAC Player of the Year. He was a three-time All-WAC division selection. Cooper finished second in NCAA career runs scored (320), fourth in NCAA career hits (349), sixth in NCAA career total bases (612) and set WAC and BYU career records for runs, hits, RBI, stolen bases and walks.
Cooper hit his pinnacle in the majors with the Houston Astros in 1991, but the majority of his playing time was on the Triple A level with teams like the Tucson Toros. He also played in the Cincinnati Reds and Pittsburgh Pirates organizations. He played in several AAA All-Star games during his 10-year pro career and was named MVP of one of those games as well as being voted Outstanding Player of the Year in the Pacific Coast League.
Batting a collegiate career .409, he was drafted in the seventh round by the Houston Astros in 1986. Coop led the Anchorage (Alaska) Glacier Pilots to a third place finish in the National Baseball Congress All-American Tournament in Wichita, Kansas in the summer of 1985.
He and his wife April have two daughters, Taylor and Nikki, and a son Camden.