Coaching Baseball: Don Cooper

White Sox Coach More Comfortable Coaching than Playing

Guest post by: Jim Mancari – Reporter from The Tablet Publication; Long Island, NY

There are tons of baseball players out there who have the mental capacity to succeed in the game of baseball but may not have the physical tools to have a successful big-league career.

Rather than give up on baseball altogether after their playing careers don’t work out, these players can stay involved with the game they love through coaching.

Chicago White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper experienced that path. He is now the third longest tenured pitching coach in the Major Leagues behind only Dave Righetti (San Francisco Giants) and Rick Anderson (Twins).

Don Cooper White Sox Coach

Don Cooper White Sox Coach

Cooper gained a competitive edge growing up playing baseball and basketball every single day in Queens, N.Y. He went on to star at Msgr. McClancy M.H.S. in East Elmhurst and then the New York Institute of Technology in Old Westbury, L.I. After a successful college career, he was drafted as a pitcher in 1978 by the New York Yankees at age 22.

My focus from the third grade up was that, ‘I’m playing Major League Baseball,’ Cooper said. That was my dream, and that’s what I always sought after. I was blessed enough to get that dream fulfilled.

Cooper made his Major League debut on April 9, 1981 for the Minnesota Twins. His pitching career included stints with the Twins, Toronto Blue Jays and Yankees, but he was never able to latch on long enough for the professional career he dreamed about to take shape.

While his playing career did not last as long as he would have liked, Cooper said he was lucky enough to be asked to become a pitching coach in the White Sox minor league system. He spent 15 years in various roles in the White Sox system, but in July, 2002, he was promoted to take over as the pitching coach for the Major League club.

Cooper said he feels much more comfortable as a coach in the big leagues than he ever did as a player. He turned his dream of playing professional baseball into a reality, and he now takes pride in helping young players achieve that same dream.

But more so than just facilitating his players’ jump to the big leagues, Cooper’s job with his pitchers is to help them build careers. He’s already groomed White Sox lefty phenom Chris Sale into a budding superstar and perennial All-Star, and Jose Quintana and Dylan Axelrod are the next up-and-comers for the Chicago pitching staff.

As his career continues, he said that he will never stop having fun being involved with the game. That all started from his days in Queens, which have helped him become a difference maker in the lives of so many young pitchers.

“I’ve got the best seat in the house,” Cooper said. “I’m watching the best game on the planet played by the best players on the planet.”

Jim Mancari

Jim Mancari

Guest Post by:
Jim Mancari

So to any players out there who want to stay involved in the game as a coach, just look to Cooper’s example.

About CoachK

Owner and head instructor at Colonial Baseball Instruction. CBI serves Southern VA with baseball camps and private lessons. CBI also developed My Coach: Baseball App and sells a variety of baseball training aids.