If you have been to the Left Field Pavilion at Dodger Stadium anytime during the past thirteen or so years, or if you have ever watched a dodgerfilms YouTube video, you have undoubtedly seen him before. His name is Ron Cooper but around Chavez Ravine he is affectionately known as “Deep Left” – and he is as permanent of a fixture in the LFP as the wooden bleachers themselves.
Cooper has been attending Dodger games since the team first moved to Los Angeles from Brooklyn in 1958, and though he doesn’t recall the exact date or who the Dodgers were playing, he has vivid memories of his very first game at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum that same year.
“I was definitely at the Coliseum the first year the Dodgers were here because my dad loved going,” said Cooper. “I was 12 so I do have good memories of riding in the car to the Coliseum, although I couldn’t tell you what the first game might have been. I also have a memory of the Roy Campanella night with the matches or the lighters, I remember being there and being awed by the lighters or matches.”
After Dodger Stadium opened in 1962, Cooper attended quite a few games there as a teenager but his visits tapered off as he entered adulthood and had to work for a living to support a family.
“I started working at Columbia Studios in 1965 as a sound boom operator,” said Cooper. “Over the next 42 years I worked at all of the studios until I retired in 2007. I started going to more games as my career was winding down and became a season ticket holder in the Left Field Pavilion in 2001.”
As for his nickname “Deep Left,” that is a story all its own – and wouldn’t you know, it has a Vin Scully connection to it.
“The first year I was out here in 2001 I wanted a name on my jersey that was different than most,” Cooper said. “I didn’t want my name on it and I didn’t necessarily want a players’ name because they move around so much now. It wasn’t the first year but I think it was sometime in my second year and I’m still trying to figure out the best name. I remember hearing Vin Scully say ‘The ball is hit to deep left field’ but every now and then he’d say “That ball is hit to deep left.’ So after hearing that for many months I thought ‘Deep Left, that’s got a good ring to it’ and maybe someday Vin Scully will say ‘…and that ball is hit to Deep Left’ and I literally would catch it, that’s my dream, that Vin would call it that way.”
As you might imagine, attending upwards of 60 or 70 games a season for for nearly two decades you are bound to see some outstanding, even historic things happen. What is Cooper’s favorite memory?
“In the modern era it’s hard not to pick a Manny [Ramirez] moment, but it’s also hard not to pick an Eric Gagné moment either,” said Cooper. “If you talk about an extended period of time, to me the best, the most enjoyable fun thing would be when Gagné would come in in the ninth inning. They’d play the Guns N’ Roses music (Welcome to the Jungle) and he’d come out of the bullpen gate. And because this went on nearly every night or three nights a week and for three years or more, I have to say that’s a collection of my best memories, that ninth inning.”
As for his all-time favorite Dodger, that’s a no-brainer for Cooper.
“I would go with Mike Piazza,” said Cooper. “There were days when the only reason I’d come to a game was to see Piazza hit a home run and if we lost I didn’t care, I just wanted to see him put it out.
“In those days I was sitting over in the main bowl wondering why I wasn’t sitting in the Left Field Pavilion,” added Cooper. “I would sit there during batting practice and say ‘Gee, I want a home run ball, so why don’t I try to sit somewhere where you can get one?’ So in 2000 I bought a few games out here to see if I’d like it. I brought my son Chris to a few games and said ‘What do you think? Do you want to get season tickets out here?’ and he said ‘Let’s try it,’ so we did it for 2001 and have been out here ever since.”
As a longtime LFP season ticket holder Cooper has seen a number of changes over the years, but he relishes in the fact that, for the most part, the pavilions are pretty much today as they were when Dodger Stadium first opened in 1962, with one huge exception – the sometimes unruly fans that gave the Left Field Pavilion a bad reputation that still lingers today, even if unwarranted.
“I’ve seen tremendous changes out here but subtle changes,” Cooper said. “You don’t realize how bad it was four years ago when the gang element really was here because we forget about that now, but it wasn’t that long ago. But the changes didn’t happen overnight, you see different fan bases fade away and some new ones come in. There’s subtle changes out here, I don’t know how to put into words.
“The best part is you see so many people you’ve known for so long, 10 years at least,” continued Cooper. “You may only see them every fourth night because they may not be here every night like we are, and the older I get the more I enjoy that. The other thing I’m noticing is that it seems that there’s more kids out here in the last couple years, maybe more kids want to be out here, I don’t know. It could be my imagination but it seems there used to be more families out here and then not as much and now maybe it’s coming back to that.”
In 2006 Deep Left would become a household name among the most avid Dodger fans when he hooked up with (then) 18-year-old aspiring videographer and comic book artist Bobby Crosby, who began dodgerfilms as a simple home video project that involved filming batting practice home run balls being caught by dedicated fans who would arrive early everyday exclusively for this purpose. Before long Crosby actually began filming himself catching home run balls and his videos began trending worldwide on YouTube.
“I met Bobby out here,” recalls Cooper. “I had season tickets in the front row but they weren’t on the aisle, they were two in from the aisle and Bobby had the two seats on the aisle across from me. I met him on the first day of the season [in 2001]. In those days I would only be here on the weekends or in the summertime when I wasn’t working and we would see each other when I came to the games. He wasn’t bringing his camera then, he was just a kid.
“In 2007 is when he really started videoing and primarily for batting practice,” added Cooper. “He just wanted to catch home runs in batting practice and videotape us, everybody else, catching ’em. And then he would shoot a few highlights of the game but very little. And then he decided one day that ‘maybe I can video tape myself catching a game home run’ and then it became an obsession.”
As Deep Left and dodgerfilms became close friends, they began shooting short comedy skits, many of which were based on the happiest day of the year for season ticket holders – the day that their large book of tickets arrived in the mail, usually accompanied with some type of special gift like a shoulder bag. These were among the funniest and most popular videos but unfortunately they came to a screeching halt this season when the Dodgers did away with printed hard tickets opting to go with “paperless” (for them) print-at-home tickets instead.
But in spite of all of this, dodgerfilms continues to this day and Crosby’s videos, most of which have Deep Left in them, are as popular today as ever. In fact, while at the Dodgers-Mets series at Citi Field in New York this past May, a young fan wearing a Dodgers jersey approached me (I was wearing my ‘FanSince 53’ jersey which has appeared in a few dodgerfilms videos) and he asked if I knew dodgerfilms and Deep Left. When I told him that I did and that we were all good friends, he said that he is a huge fan of theirs and never misses a single video.
“It has spread all over the country it seems like,” said Cooper. “Bobby has followers from all across the country and even around the world. We frequently get asked for our autographs, usually from kids who are big fans of dodgerfilms.”
As a longtime LFP season ticket holder, especially as a Row-A season ticket holder, Cooper has caught several actual game home run balls.
“I caught three in the air on the fly and another that caromed up the stairs that I caught,” said Cooper. “That was the money ball (a milestone home run from Miguel Tejada for which Cooper received an autographed bat in exchange for the ball), and then I’ve had three on the ground.”
Which one is most special to him?
“I gotta say the one I got on Father’s Day (from Arizona Diamondbacks slugger Paul Goldschmidt) because my son was right next to me,” said Cooper fondly. “That will never be any better, except it was not a Dodger. To have your son right next to you on Father’s Day and the home run comes, that will be tough to beat.”
As one of the Left Field Pavilion’s longest-tenured season ticket holders what changes would Cooper like to see at his home away from home?
“Because of my age, more comfortable seats,” Cooper said with a laugh. “I would like to see something a little different out here but I don’t know what. It gets close quarters out here on the nights that it’s sold out. I don’t have any suggestions, it’s the pavilion, and that might be why I love it. You know, so often when I sit in other parts of the stadium now, so many people aren’t even paying attention to the game, they’re talking business or one thing or another and it’s so different than the pavilion sometimes.”
So is this the year that the Dodgers return to the World series after a 26-year absence?
“I’m starting to think so, I really am,” Cooper answered. “What I’ve seen in that last three weeks or so it’s a team that can do it. The sweep in San Francisco may be the tipping point, that might have been it. It came together leading up to it coming into town, they decided to be on a mission and they’ve launched the mission.”
The Senior Statesman of the Left Field Pavilion said it – and so it shall be.