So, this was the scene: In the spring of 1986, Pattonville was hosting De Smet in the district final. De Smet led 2-1 in the sixth. There was a man on second and two outs. DeSmet elected to pitch to Scott Cooper, who had homered earlier in the game. Bad idea. Cooper hit the ball 400 feet on the track by the football field. Pattonville won 3-2.
Cooper walked on water in high school: He was so good as a quarterback that he was offered scholarships to play at Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois and UCLA. He averaged about 20 points and 10 rebounds a game as a basketball player. Basketball actually was his favorite sport, but baseball became his career. Cooper was picked in the second round by the Red Sox, and went on to become a two-time All-Star.
Now, the happily married father of two spends his life teaching the game. He coaches and helps to run the highly respected St. Louis Gamers program. He also does individual hitting work daily at All-Star Performance. He spent eight spring trainings with Ted Williams. So, Cooper may know a thing or two about hitting the baseball.
Best all-time baseball moment:
When I knew I was starting a game against the Yankees in 1991. Wade Boggs had a neck injury. The manager said, You are starting. It was the Sunday night game on ESPN. I remember calling home from the clubhouse phone to tell my mom and dad. I was listening to my dad's voice and having memories of him watching me in Little League.
The scariest pitcher you ever faced:
Randy Johnson—unfair. Boggs came back after striking out one time and said, We can't hit him with a surf board.
Baseball heroes growing up:
My dad, George Brett and Mike Schmidt.
Philosophy on working with kids:
Maximize their development—whatever that ceiling may be, and use the platform I have to do it.
Most embarrassing moment on a field:
I remember being in Triple A. The pitcher threw a curve ball that broke 4 feet. I took a swing as hard as I could, and it hit me right in the cup.
Five cool things to do in town that you may not have tried lately:
1. Go to Pole Position Raceway. These are not the go-karts you may have driven as a kid at the lake.
2. A trip to Fairmount Park for an evening with the ponies. It's a classic, and there are some interesting people. And it’s always kind of a rush to bet $2 and win $20.
3. Taking your own car to Gateway Motorsports Park for a trip around the track. St. Louis is one of 26 cities to have a NASCAR event, and this first-class track is a major reason.
4. Go to a Gateway Grizzlies game. It's not a stadium—it’s a ballpark. The hamburger in the middle of two Krispy Kreme doughnuts is something you may want to try, if you are daring.
5. PM BBQ. It doesn't carry the big reputation as some of the places in town. It's Division One—they know what they are doing.
Frank Cusumano is a 15-time Emmy Award winner on KSDK-TV, and also has been a radio commentator for 20 years. Follow Frank on Twitter @Frank_Cusumano.