The home run helped Chico continue a run of success, but, despite his own individual accomplishment, Cooper pointed to his teammates.
"The main thing is we're a team," Cooper told The Journal-Gazette. "On any given night any one of our guys could step up and carry the burden."
Cooper played on many nights over his long, 13-year career. He never made AA in seven seasons in the minors, but he went on to play six more campaigns in independent ball. He played five of those seasons at Chico.
Cooper's career began in 1989, taken by the Yankees in the 19th round of the draft out of Sacramento's Hiram W. Johnson High.
Cooper played his first two seasons in the rookie Gulf Coast League. He hit .182 his first season there and .268 his second.
He moved to single-A Greensboro for 1991 and 1992. He it .242 in 1991 and .254 in 1992. In 1991, Cooper helped teammate and future Hall of Famer Mariano Rivera learn English, Rivera wrote in his book "The Closer."
Cooper recalled to KRCR telling Rivera the importance of learning English.
"No one wants to hear the translator. Not to take anything away from Spanish, but that's going to be the moment when people could learn who you are," Cooper told KRCR in 2014. "So from that moment on he continued to learn his English."
Cooper then went through high-A San Bernardino and Prince William in 1993 and then high-A Tampa in 1994 and 1995.
He got his first look at independent ball in 1996, where he hit .331. He got his final look at the minors in 1997 with the Giants at high-A Bakersfield. He got into 38 games and hit .223.
Cooper also played 17 games at Salinas and got his first 42 games at Chico. Cooper continued to play with Chico through 2001. He hit 18 home runs there in 1998 and had a .313 average. In 2007, he was inducted into the Chico Professional Baseball’s Legends of the Diamond Hall of Fame.
- Reno Journal-Gazette, June 16, 1999: Heat wins 15th game in 16 tries
- KRCR, March 31, 2014: Chico man recalls friendships with future Hall of Famers
Made the Majors:1,128-36.6%
Never Made Majors:1,952-63.4%-X
5+ Seasons in the Majors: 467
10+ Seasons in the Minors:281-X