Braden Looper: Former Mets Relief Pitcher (2004 - 2005)

Braden Laverne Looper was born October 28, 1974 in Weatherford, Oklahoma. He is one of the few Mets to be born in Oklahoma and one of very few players to have a middle name of Laverne. 

Looper was no dummy a smart student graduating in the National Honor Society. He was a scholar, as well as a four-letter man in High school.

The six foot four right handed pitcher attended Wichita State, earning All American honors going to the College World Series and later getting elected to the Wichita Hall of Fame. In 1996 he was part of the bronze winning US Olympic baseball team in Atlanta.

The tall six-foot five right hander was originally drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals in 1996 as a first-round selection the third pick overall. Two years later he was traded to the Florida Marlins with Armando Almanza and Pablo Ozuna for Edgar Renteria. 

MLB Career: Looper debuted during the 2000 season as a mid-reliever in going 5-1, with 18 holds as the setup man to Antonio Alfonseca. He remained in that role before gradually earning the role of the Marlins closer toward the end of the 2002 season.

He originally took the role over from Vladimir Nunez, going 2-5 with 13 saves, posting a 3.14 ERA. 

In 2003 he had 28 saves (8th in the NL) with a 6-4 record finishing off 64 games, while posting a 3.68 ERA for the Marlins World Championship team. Toward the end of the season, he lost his job to Ugueth Urbina who enjoyed a short-lived success as a closer. 

2003 Post Season: Looper saw action in two games of the NLDS against the San Francisco Giants. He was the winning pitcher in Game #3 at Joe Robby Stadium in Florida. 

In Game #1 of the NLCS against the Chicago Cubs he earned the save, again seeing action in two series games.

2003 World Series: He appeared in four games of the 2003 World Series getting roughed up for four runs in 3.2 innings of work. 

After winning the World Series Championship in Florida he signed with the New York Mets for the 2004 season.

Mets Career: Looper debuted on Opening Day 2004 in the Mets 7-2 win in Atlanta against the Braves. In the month of April, he had four saves and a perfect 0.00 ERA showing some promise. 

Overall Looper had as strong first half, gathering up 18 saves a 1.88 ERA while posting a 2-2 record by the All-Star break. In the second half he took two losses & blew two saves through late August.

In September he saved five games, but took two losses & blew a save allowing four runs to the Phillies in one inning of work on September 11th. That would be his best career season in 2004 gathering up 29 saves (10th in the league) going 2-5 with a 2.70 ERA. He did blow five saves along the way & allowed five HRs in 83 appearances.

The following year although he saved 28 games but he blew a lot of save opportunities which is how he is remembered. It started on Opening day in Cincinnati when he entered the 9th with a 6-4 lead. He gave up a single then two consecutive HRs to Adam Dunn & Joe Randa, taking the 7-6 loss.

There was a collapse in a June Subway series match up where the Mets could have swept that AL team but Looper gave up two 9th inning runs. In August there was a nightmare game against the Washington Nationals where the Mets blew an eight-run lead.

 Looper entered the 9th with a 8-6 lead but surrendered the tying runs as the Mets lost it in extra innings. The fans began to boo the hell out of him and he was doomed in New York. Any site of him would lead a chorus of boos and he became known as Braden Blooper.

To his credit that September it was learned he was pitching with a blown AC joint and required surgery. Looper an easy-going nice guy took it all in stride and didn’t blame the injury for his pitching woes. 

Post Mets Career: The Mets didn’t sign him in 2006, he signed with the St. Louis Cardinals who went on to beat the Mets in the NLCS. He went 9-6 with a 3.56 ERA, credited with 15 holds in 69 appearances as a setup man to Jason Isringhausen.

2006 Post Season-NLCS: Looper laughed off the greeting he got at Shea Stadium when he entered Game #1 in the 8th inning; he gave up two hits but no runs. 

In Game #6 (a game centerfieldmaz attended) us fans really let him have it in the 8th inning. After getting the first two outs, Michael Tucker & Jose Reyes both singled then stole bases.

Next the winning runs were driven in by catcher Paul Loduca, sending the series to a game seven. In three games he posted a 5.79 ERA allowing three runs on seven hits in 4.2 innings of work.

2006 World Series:
Looper appeared in three games of the series win over the Detroit Tigers. He finished off two games, allowing one run on one hit in 2.1 innings of work.

The Cardinals made him a starter in 2007 and he won 12 games, going 12-12 with a 4.94 ERA striking out 108 batters in 199 innings. In 2008 he was 12-14 with a 4.16 ERA.

In 2009 he signed with the Milwaukee Brewers going 14-7 leading the NL in starts (34) but also gave up the most HRs (39) & earned runs (113). He did not pitch in 2010 & although he signed with the Chicago Cubs in 2011 he did not make the team.

Career Stats: Looper retired finishing off his 12-year career with a 72-65 record & 103 saves. In 670 games he struck out 669 batters & walked 373 in 1176 innings posting a 4.15 ERA allowing 132 HRs.

Family: Braden's wife Shannon (Kallemeyn) is a former Wichita State volleyball player. Together they have three children. The family are devout Baptist Christian's.


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