Bob Cooper isn’t about to peel off his Hoover High baseball jersey and start hunting for a position at the college level or as a professional scout, but the Tornado coach won’t shoo away any interested parties either.
“If something happens, I’m going to apply for it,” Cooper said. “I think I’ve put my time in at this level.”
And then some.
Cooper, 48, in his 25th year of high school coaching, has established himself as one of the winningest coaches in the Southern Section. When his team rallied past La Salle in a nonleague contest Saturday, it gave Cooper 400 career wins.
Cooper, who began this week with a 400-197 lifetime record, has coached at Hoover for 14 years after stints at Harvard (1965-66), Elsinore (1967-74), and Lee Vining (1975) highs. His teams have won a combined 12 league titles, and have been to the playoffs every year since 1965, save two--1976 and 1987. His 1970 Elsinore team won the Southern Section 1-A Division championship.
Cooper’s career highlights include:
Watching Hoover’s Don Lollar pitch an 11-inning no-hitter in 1978;
Coaching Robert Murphy of Elsinore, who notched 151 strikeouts in a season before going on to Azusa Pacific and the San Francisco Giants minor league system;
Watching Elsinore’s Danny Edwards’ two-strike, two-out solo home run in the bottom of the seventh inning tie the 1970 Southern Section final against St. Genevieve. Edwards’ 11th-inning single won the game;
Watching his son, Randy, hit back-to-back home runs in the 1987 league finale to lead Hoover over Glendale.
But Cooper says his greatest satisfaction comes when players and former players ask him for advice. “I’m more of a players’ coach,” he said. “As a baseball coach, you want to see guys make the pros. But I want to see kids become good people.”