Bradley Arden Cooper is a rather popular fellow on social media, especially Facebook. This is because he shares his name with the Oscar-nominated actor who starred in “Silver Linings Playbook” and “The Hangover.”
“Having that name is an easy way to get friends on Facebook, that’s for sure,” Cooper said. “It got serious when he was named ‘sexiest man alive.’ ”
The 18-year-old no longer needs to hitch his online wagon to the movie star. He has become famous on his own after a dramatic catch he made, snagging a home run during a Dragons game on Aug. 7.
Lake County’s Jorge Martinez drove a home run to the lawn area behind right field at Fifth Third Field. Cooper tracked the ball down in the grass and made a diving catch, smashing his face against the concrete facade that lies behind the lawn area. He returned to his spot in the grass, then quickly got up and handed the ball to a girl who was sitting behind him.
Within hours, the catch was replayed across YouTube. The official site of Minor League Baseball grabbed it, then ESPN called the Dragons requesting it. Fox News played the clip several times the next day during most of its shows. The catch garnered its own segment on ESPN mainstays such as “Around the Horn” and "SportsNation.”
Cooper, who lives in Hillsboro, took his girlfriend Nikki Rodriguez to the game to celebrate their one-year anniversary as a couple, but he had snagging a ball on his mind once he got there.
“I told my girlfriend I was going to catch a ball,” Cooper said. “And I knew I wanted to give it to the kid behind me. When I grew up, I went to a bunch of games, but I never got a ball. I was always disappointed, so I wanted to give it to a kid to keep them interested in going to the games.”
Cooper lived in Dayton for a few years, growing up near the Island Metro Park area, close to Fifth Third Field. He met Rodriguez, a Dayton resident, while attending Mount Vernon Academy, a boarding school north of Columbus. Both graduated this year. Cooper has plans to attend Andrews University in Michigan and major in computer science.
Online comments generally commended Cooper on his guts, but took shots at him for his shirt, many of which compared it to the clothing worn by the Steve character on the children’s show “Blue’s Clues,” and for bringing a glove to a game.
“I think it’s funny and I got a real laugh out of it,” Cooper said. “My favorite was when the ‘Around the Horn’ host said my shirt looked like an alternate jersey for ‘Where’s Waldo.’ ”
Cooper said he wasn’t wearing shoes when he made the catch, he was wearing only socks and was sliding all over the grass. Despite the dramatics, Cooper thinks the reason the catch resonated was a little generosity.
“I’ve seen fans make good catches, but they usually don’t give the ball to a kid,” Cooper said. “I think that made it more special — but hitting the fence with my face didn’t hurt.”