Orange Coast College Baseball Coach Dies in Crash

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While the country continues to mourn the death of Kobe Bryant, it’s important to note that others also died. Among those, was Orange Coast College Baseball Coach, John Altobelli. He was 56. In addition to Altobelli and Bryant, the crash also claimed the lives of several others, including Altobelli’s wife and daughter.

Bryant and his party were traveling to an event when the aircraft crashed in Calabasas, California on Sunday afternoon. There were no survivors.

Altobelli served OCC as a coach for 27 years, leading the team to four state titles and over 700 victories.

Early reports provided varying (and often misleading) information, as crews raced to get the story to fans. Initial reports stated that Bryant’s wife and daughters were among those killed. It has now been confirmed that Altobelli’s wife (Keri) and daughter (Alyssa) were among the victims.

Many of the players, students, faculty and alum gathered at college’s ball diamond in support. Sadly, the team was scheduled to open the 2020 season at home on Tuesday. There’s no word on whether the game will be postponed, or whether the team will play in his honor.

No funeral or memorial arrangements have been announced at this time.

In Reflection

Jeff Passan (ESPN) spoke with Mets star Jeff McNeil, who played under Altobelli.

McNeil told ESPN, “He’s one of the main reasons I’m still playing professional baseball.”

“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.

Altobelli may not have risen to the same level of stardom as Bryant, but his contributions on and off the field had meaning. Thousands of students and alumni will continue to mourn, as they come to grips with the tragedy.

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Ken Allison is the senior of two MLB Department Heads, as well as a writer and editor for Overtime Heroics. A life-long MLB fan, he's also written for CubsHQ and had the opportunity to try out for the Chicago Cubs in 1986.