Orange Coast College baseball coaching legend John Altobelli, his wife Keri and daughter Alyssa were among the victims in Sunday’s helicopter crash in Calabasas, California, that also killed NBA legend Kobe Bryant.
Altobelli was a coach at OCC for years, leading the Pirates to four state titles and notching more than wins. He was 700.
“John meant so much to not only Orange Coast College, but to baseball, “OCC athletic director Jason Kehler said in a statement. “He truly personified what it means to be a baseball coach. The passion that he put into the game, but more importantly his athletes, was second to none – he treated them like family. Our deepest condolences go out to the Altobelli family during this time of tragedy. “
ESPN’s Jeff Passan spoke to Mets star Jeff McNeil, who played for Altobelli in 2012, when Altobelli managed the Brewster Whitecaps – a collegiate, summer baseball team in the Cape Cod League.
” He’s one of the main reasons I’m still playing professional baseball, “McNeil told ESPN of Altobelli.
McNeil said he had a poor first two years at Long Beach State. His coaches there asked Altobelli to bring McNeil to Brewster anyway.
“He took a chance on me, kept me the whole summer. Him taking that chance on me, having me on his team, got me drafted, “McNeil said.
” He made you believe in your ability. I remember when we first got to the Cape, He said, ‘You’re here for a reason. You’ve just got to believe you can do it. If you want to steal, steal. Play your game. Do what you guys want to do. Enjoy it. Have fun with it. This is gonna be one of the best summers of your life. ‘”