Orange Coast College baseball coach John Altobelli, his wife Keri and daughter Alyssa were killed in the helicopter crash Sunday that claimed the lives of nine victims, including Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna.
Altobelli's team honored him and his family during its home opener on Tuesday, and Yankees RHP Gerrit Cole was there to pay his respects.
Cole, who grew up around the area in California, knew that Orange Coast was a powerhouse. And though he didn't know Altobelli personally, he respected the program that he had built up, and wanted to show his support during a very tough day. Here's what he had to say about the game:
"Today I attended Opening Day of the 2020 season for the OCC baseball team," he wrote on Twitter. "Normally the season opener is a day filled with excitement and pageantry, instead it was a somber day to honor a family in the Orange County community. We are all grieving this week for those who lost their lives tragically this past Sunday. Today was no different. I did not personally know Coach Altobelli, or "Alto," but his program carries a prestigious brand around here, something that I've known since my youth baseball days."
As Cole said, he was able to reconnect with some old friends and truly get to know what Coach Altobelli and his family meant to the community.
"I realized a lot of these people who knew John, in one way or another, had some impact on me and my career," he said. "JJ and I competed against each other in college and I admired his will to win, his love for his team and his disciplined work ethic. The Altobelli family is woven through the fabric of Orange County baseball."
So, just as the basketball world is mourning the loss of one of its best players to ever step on the court, the baseball world has also lost someone who had a tremendous impact on the game. Altobelli has coached the likes of Aaron Judge and Mets superutility man Jeff McNeil, who called him "one of my favorite coaches I have ever played for."