Or­ange Coast Col­lege base­ball coach dies

Antelope Valley Press - - WEATHER/OBITUARIES -

CALABASAS, Calif. (AP) — John Al­to­belli, the long­time base­ball coach at Or­ange Coast Col­lege, was killed along with his wife and daugh­ter in the he­li­copter crash Sun­day that also took the lives of Kobe Bryant and the re­tired NBA su­per­star’s daugh­ter, Gianna.

The 56-year-old Al­to­belli died along with his wife, Keri, and daugh­ter, Alyssa, who was about 13 and played on the same bas­ket­ball team as Bryant’s daugh­ter, said Al­to­belli’s younger brother, Tony Al­to­belli, the sports in­for­ma­tion direc­tor at the school. They were among the nine peo­ple aboard the he­li­copter when it crashed around 10 a.m. Sun­day in Calabasas, about 30 miles north­west of down­town Los An­ge­les.

John Al­to­belli spent 27 sea­sons as coach at the com­mu­nity col­lege in Costa Mesa, Cal­i­for­nia. The team won a state cham­pi­onship last year and Al­to­belli was named a na­tional coach of the year by the Amer­i­can Base­ball Coaches As­so­ci­a­tion. He led the team to more than 700 vic­to­ries and four state ti­tles.

Among the play­ers he coached at OCC was Don­nie Mur­phy, who played for five ma­jor league teams from 2004-14. Al­to­belli also was the head coach of the Brew­ster White­caps from 2012-14 in the Cape Cod Base­ball League, a sum­mer prov­ing ground for elite col­lege prospects. There he coached more than a dozen play­ers who have reached the big leagues, in­clud­ing Al­lS­tar out­field­ers Aaron Judge of the New York Yan­kees and Jeff McNeil of the New York Mets.

“One of my fa­vorite coaches I have ever played for and one of the main rea­sons I got a chance to play pro­fes­sional base­ball,” McNeil tweeted. “Both the base­ball and bas­ket­ball world lost a great one to­day.”

Or­ange Coast Col­lege an­nounced the cre­ation of a memorial fund for the Al­to­belli fam­ily.

“John meant so much to not only Or­ange Coast Col­lege, but to base­ball,” 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.”

The team was sched­uled to start its sea­son on Tues­day.

“He treated ev­ery player like his own son,” Or­ange Coast first base­man Justin Brodt told the Or­ange County Reg­is­ter. “He wanted the best for every­body in­volved. That’s what made him such a suc­cess­ful coach and such a great guy.”

OR­ANGE COAST COL­LEGE VIA AP

This un­dated photo re­leased by Or­ange Coast Col­lege shows its head base­ball coach John Al­to­belli. The Al­to­belli fam­ily has con­firmed that John Al­to­belli, his wife Keri and daugh­ter Alyssa were among those killed in the he­li­copter crash with NBA icon Kobe Bryant and his daugh­ter Gianna in Calabasas, Calif., Sun­day. Alyssa played on the same team as Gianna, said Al­to­belli’s brother Tony, who is the sports in­for­ma­tion direc­tor at the school.

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