Dave Cooper is a name etched into the history of Windsor-Essex baseball. The Belle River native was inducted into the Windsor-Essex County Sports Hall of Fame in 2015 and is now a member of the OCAA's Class of 2023.
"It's pretty exciting." said Cooper. You get in with guys I admired in my childhood. Jack Costello and Jerry Serviss. To be on the same plain as those guys, it's a real honour."
Cooper was the bench boss at St. Clair College for eight seasons and guided the team to an eye popping 97-15 regular season record. In 2015 the Saints ran the table during their championship run which was in the middle of a stretch of 41 games without a loss between 2014 and 2016.
"We were an extention of those Tecumseh Thunder junior teams that were so good." Cooper said while referencing players like Kyle Breitner, Eric Cunningham and current head coach Roberto Duncan. "I had about 10-12 of those kids for a stretch of about five years. We just kept going to the next level with that. It was a lot of fun.
Cooper's career spans five decades as a player and manager. He batted .415 at the age of 43 as a manager/coach for the Tecumseh Thunder in 2000 and says getting into the Windsor-Essex County Hall of Fame as a player is different than as a coach.
He says he was blessed with the support of college administration, great players to coach and a strong coaching staff that included the late Chico Labute. "Chico did a lot of the behind the scenes stuff for me." Cooper said. "The only time it gets noticed is when you win and people don't realize. He deserves just as much of that as I do."
Also joining Cooper in the Class of 2023 are St. Clair alum Shannon Bedard, Kyle Breitner, Jason Hernandez, Pavel Shtefan and Lindsay Verkoeyen. The induction ceremony recognizing all 32 recipients is scheduled for May 1st at the St. Clair CEntre for the Arts.