Category Archives: Andy Cooper

Belated Happy Birthday Andy Cooper, Negro League HOF Pitcher

Due to being shut down the last few days by a bad cold, I failed yesterday to acknowledge the birthday of Negro League left-handed pitcher Andy Cooper.  Born April 24, 1898 in Waco, Texas; Cooper is considered one of the best southpaw pitchers in Negro League baseball history; Willie Foster the only one deemed better.  At 6’2″, 220 pounds, he had the physical stature of a power pitcher.  But Andy Cooper did not overpower hitters.  Nicknamed “Lefty”, he used a variety of pitches at different speeds to keep hitters off-balance to get them out.  He pitched for the Detroit Stars (1920 – 1927) and the Kansas City Monarchs (1928 – 1937).  Also, with Cooper as manager, the Monarchs won the Negro American League pennant in 1939 and 1940.

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The following is an exert from my book “Last Train to Cooperstown:  The 2006 Baseball Hall of Fame Inductees from the Negro League Baseball Era” in which I profile Andy Cooper;

“In his prime, Hall of Famer Satchel Paige’s fastball was described by batters as

being the size of a half-dollar or a pea. By the nickname given other

pitchers, the batters knew what to expect when facing them.

“Smokey” Joe Williams, “Cannonball” Dick Redding, Wilber “Bullet”

Rogan, and “Steel Arm” Johnny Taylor were just a few whose name

preceded their pitches. Using radar technology to gauge the speed

of pitches was not introduced into baseball until the 1970s.

However, if it had been used to clock the pitches of the great Negro

League baseball hurlers, it would have registered at ninety‐plus

miles per hour many times.

But Andrew Lewis Cooper was a different kind of pitcher. He

did not overpower batters. “Lefty” as he was nicknamed, used a

variety of pitches at different speeds to get batters out.

In order to hit the ball solidly, a batter must have balanced

coordination and timing between his legs, waist, shoulders, and

hands. If a pitcher can disrupt that coordination and timing, getting

the hitter swinging too early or too late; it usually leads to a fly out,

ground out or strike out. Andy Cooper was a master of keeping

hitters off-balance. Not having the blazing fastball like other great

Negro League pitchers, he had the ability to get batters out by

disrupting their coordination and timing. “Lefty” had a successful

career by frustrating and fooling them with his arsenal of pitches.”

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To read more about Andy Cooper and the Negro League baseball era Last Train To Cooperstown

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