There are several Negro League players that would have undoubtedly dominated in major league baseball if not for the racism of the times. One of those players was Andy “Lefty” Cooper, a tall, strong pitcher that was inducted rightfully into the National Baseball Hall of Fame decades after his passing.
Cooper was born April 24, 1898 in Waco, Texas although some historians say it was 1896. Not much is known about Cooper’s early life but reports indicate he may have attended Paul Quinn College in his hometown and even played for a series of farm teams before the Negro Leagues.
The late baseball historian and notable Negro Leagues expert Dick Clark once said that Cooper might have been the best pitcher ever in Detroit history, even though he never played in the major leagues. He played nine seasons for the Detroit Stars.
Chicago Defender sports editor Russ J. Cowan once wrote that Cooper could throw just about any pitch he wanted and had amazing control of his pitches. He set a Negro League record for saves. Cowan added that Cooper had an uncanny knack for studying his opponents’ weaknesses.
Along with the Stars, Cooper was a standout player with the Kansas City Monarchs, where he played ten seasons. In the last three seasons of his career, he was both player and manager. As a member of the Monarchs, he helped the team win the pennant between 1937 and 1940. Cooper suddenly died in 1941 after a stroke and heart attack at the age of 43. He was survived by a son, Andy Cooper, Jr.
Cooper was inducted into the Hall in 2006.
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