Braden Looper (born on October 28, 1974 in Weatherford, Oklahoma) is a pitcher in Major League Baseball for the St. Louis Cardinals.
Looper was a scholar/athelete while a student at Mangum High School. He graduated in 1993 with four letters each in baseball and basketball and two in football while also a member of the National Honor Society. He focused on baseball while attending Wichita State University and was inducted into their sports Hall of Fame in 2003. In 1996, he competed in the College World Series and was a first-team All-American as a junior. He was also a member of the bronze medal-winning Team USA in the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta.
Looper was selected by the St. Louis Cardinals as the third pick in the first round of the 1996 amateur draft. He made his major league debut against the Los Angeles Dodgers on March 31, 1998, striking out the side in a relief appearance. After the 1998 season, he was traded to the Florida Marlins for shortstop Edgar Renteria.
Looper enjoyed success with the Marlins, working his way into the role of a closer. However, toward the end of the 2003 season, as the Marlins were in a pennant race that culminated in a World Series win, Looper faltered somewhat and was replaced as closer by Ugueth Urbina. Looper did get the save in the fourth game of the series against the Yankees.
In January 2004, Looper signed with the New York Mets as a free agent and had his best season to date going 2-5 with 29 saves and a 2.70 ERA. However, Looper had many crucial blown saves during the 2005 season, including blown saves on Opening Day, in a game that would have clinched a Met sweep at Yankee Stadium and as part of an eight-run collapse by the Mets pen against the Nationals.
In September of 2005 Looper underwent shoulder surgery to repair a blown AC joint. This, in addition to the emergence of Aaron Heilman and acquisition by the Mets of other relief pitchers, kept the Mets from picking up his $5 million option for 2006. Indeed, on December 15, 2005, he signed a three-year contract with the Cardinals to set up star closer and former Met Jason Isringhausen.
Looper is married with two children and resides in Palos Heights, Illinois.