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View Full Version : Cecil Cooper Mysterious 1987 Season


Brian26
11-15-2012, 11:35 PM
I came across this on another forum. I don't remember this when it happened, but this is crazy in hindsight.

Cecil Cooper played his last game in the majors on July 12, 1987 for the Brewers. He didn't get hurt. The Brewers didn't release him or buy out his contract. They didn't trade him. Cooper didn't retire. Simply, the Brewers benched him for the rest of the season.

Also of note, in 1987, major league teams had a 24-man roster instead of 25 players. So, from July 13 until the end of the season, the Brewers played with 23 guys.

Tom Trebelhorn, the manager, claimed that the GM Harry Dalton told him he was going to trade or release Cooper, but it never happened.

Here's a link to a Milwaukee newspaper article in August of '87:

http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1499&dat=19870829&id=uGMaAAAAIBAJ&sjid=BisEAAAAIBAJ&pg=5056,4200145

I can't imagine anything like this ever happening in today's game.

chicagowhitesox1
11-16-2012, 01:14 AM
I checked his splits and although not great he may have been useful at home vs lefthanded pitching, he probably could have been valuable even vs certain pitchers too. That is strange why they would bench him.

I'm kinda curious on this so i'm gonna try and find out.

russ99
11-16-2012, 09:54 AM
I came across this on another forum. I don't remember this when it happened, but this is crazy in hindsight.

Cecil Cooper played his last game in the majors on July 12, 1987 for the Brewers. He didn't get hurt. The Brewers didn't release him or buy out his contract. They didn't trade him. Cooper didn't retire. Simply, the Brewers benched him for the rest of the season.

Also of note, in 1987, major league teams had a 24-man roster instead of 25 players. So, from July 13 until the end of the season, the Brewers played with 23 guys.

Tom Trebelhorn, the manager, claimed that the GM Harry Dalton told him he was going to trade or release Cooper, but it never happened.

Here's a link to a Milwaukee newspaper article in August of '87:

http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1499&dat=19870829&id=uGMaAAAAIBAJ&sjid=BisEAAAAIBAJ&pg=5056,4200145

I can't imagine anything like this ever happening in today's game.

Maybe they kept him on the roster for some kind if benefit, where guys need a certain amount of service time to qualify for.

He was a big part of the Brewers in the late 70s and early 80s, so they may have done that as a thanking gesture.

chicagowhitesox1
11-16-2012, 12:03 PM
Yeah but they were a good team that year why would they risk a roster spot while in a pennant race. The Tigers did end up beating em by 7 games but I would have to think the race was closer in late July through early September.

kba
11-16-2012, 10:17 PM
The White Sox had a player like that in 1975: Jim Essian. He came to the Sox in May as the player-to-be-named-later in an off-season trade that sent Dick Allen to Atlanta. Allen refused to play for the Braves, and they traded him to the Philllies, who sent Essian to the Sox.

Essian spent nine weeks on the Sox major league roster and never played a single game before they finally sent him to the minors. Chuck Tanner just used him as a bullpen catcher and played with 24 men.

johnny bench
11-17-2012, 06:42 PM
Paul Molitor had something to do with Cooper's not playing. 1987 was the year Molitor had a 39 game hitting streak which began on the first day he returned from the DL. Trebelhorn installed Molitor as DH upon his return, replacing Cooper, who had been DH. Molly was comfortable at DH (http://www.chron.com/CDA/archives/archive.mpl/1987_481655/molitor-keeps-hitting-streak-alive.html) and Coop never played again.

It probably didn't help that Cooper came out of spring training unable to play (http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1368&dat=19870331&id=uohQAAAAIBAJ&sjid=gxIEAAAAIBAJ&pg=2278,7992942) until the 8th game of the season.

Of course, the Milwaukee press was asking questions (http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1499&dat=19870812&id=XzkdAAAAIBAJ&sjid=qioEAAAAIBAJ&pg=5109,3888053). Here's Trebelhorn's defense (http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1368&dat=19870905&id=bqtRAAAAIBAJ&sjid=6RIEAAAAIBAJ&pg=5601,1116439).

Brian26
11-17-2012, 07:08 PM
Here's Trebelhorn's defense (http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1368&dat=19870905&id=bqtRAAAAIBAJ&sjid=6RIEAAAAIBAJ&pg=5601,1116439).

Google News Archives are awesome. Look at the article above it, which talks about the Twins' Billy Beane winning a game on a base hit off Dan Plesac.

The Cooper story gets crazier. So, it sounds like he refused to enter the game when asked based on what Trebelhorn said. That seems like a breach of contract.

soxinem1
11-20-2012, 12:59 PM
I remember when this happened, and I also remember 1987 as one of the most bizarre seasons I ever experienced.

I remember MIL winning 13 straight to start the year, a streak broken by us!!

Many of us thought they were going to be like DET in 1984, but by the third week of June they would never get less than six games out of first place.

They also lost 11-12 in a row a month or so later. So much for wiping out that big gap they had.

Our White Sox looked like total crap for most of the year, then in mid-September they woke up like 20 games under .500 and battled back to finish just eight games out of first, remarkable when you realize what comatose punching bags they were most of the year.

Regarding Big Cec, It was established that it wasn't about money, as Cooper had a guaranteed contract for 1988.

And yes, thanks to Hawk, teams used 24 players instead of 25. But teams didn't have 12-13 man pitching staffs either back then.

I believe the Molitor theory is definitely a contributing factor, as once he returned he took the DH spot he hit his behind off, and Greg Brock was doing very well at 1B.

With Coop obviously washed up, Treblehorn went with the hot hands and kept it that way, then realized he left one of the best players in team history to rot on the bench.

When he tried to give him a few token game appearances, Cooper blew it off thinking if he has sat all this time, why play?

It would be interesting to really hear the truth after all these years.

chicagowhitesox1
11-20-2012, 03:32 PM
Why was Ken Harrelson responsible for the 24 man roster?

I think they used a juiced up ball that year too.

PeteWard
11-26-2012, 08:31 AM
Didn't Cooper get screwed out of a batting title when an injured George Brett--who did not have enough ABs to qualify-- was "given" ABs at the end of the season by MLB at his current BA to qualify? Early 80's or so?

chicagowhitesox1
11-26-2012, 09:37 AM
Didn't Cooper get screwed out of a batting title when an injured George Brett--who did not have enough ABs to qualify-- was "given" ABs at the end of the season by MLB at his current BA to qualify? Early 80's or so?

That happened in 1980 when Brett hit 390. I think Cooper hit 352. But I think your right about the atbats Brett had. I might be wrong but I'm pretty sure MLB changed something so Brett would be able to qualify. He did end up with 515 plate appearances though.

Nellie_Fox
11-26-2012, 01:00 PM
That's built into the rules for a batting championship. If the hitter would have still won even by going 0 for however many AB's he would need to qualify, they give them to him.

chicagowhitesox1
11-26-2012, 01:58 PM
That's built into the rules for a batting championship. If the hitter would have still won even by going 0 for however many AB's he would need to qualify, they give them to him.

Yeah but I think they changed something in 1980. Maybe it was the plate appearances instead of atbats to determine a batting champion. I really don't know though. It's something which I thought I heard about before.

soxinem1
11-29-2012, 09:05 PM
Why was Ken Harrelson responsible for the 24 man roster?

I think they used a juiced up ball that year too.

It was a different era back then, and all of MLB went along with the reduced roster until the end of the 1990 ST lockout.

Most teams had no more than a nine man pitching staff back then, as bullpens were not as specialized, closers often worked 90-110 IP a year, and starters worked deeper in games.

That meant there were seven players on the bench with a 25 man roster, including the DH (if you had a primary one). Seven.

Looked at primarily as a money-saving issue, with Hawk leading the way, teams dropped to 24 players even though they were still allowed 25 if they chose.