BOSTON (CBS) — John Altobelli, a former coach of the Brewster Whitecaps on Cape Cod, was among the nine people killed a helicopter crash in California Sunday that also took the lives of NBA legend Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna.
Altobelli was in the helicopter with his wife Keri and daughter Alyssa, according to the Whitecaps.
John was our head coach in 2012-14, and his son JJ played for us too. JJ and his other daughter Alexis survive them. Our heartfelt condolences to his family.
— Brewster Whitecaps (@WhitecapsCCBL) January 26, 2020
Altobelli is being remembered as a passionate baseball manager and coach, and an intense competitor who could also have fun. He was with the Whitecaps from 2012-2014.
“There’s not only a sense of shock but I mean almost disbelief,” said Chris Kenney, the team’s president.
“He got the best out of his players and out of his team. But he also had a real sense of fun too. It is Summer League baseball, and it may be the last time these guys have a lot of fun playing ball, as opposed to playing professionally, and John was able to work with that as well. So he was a very accomplished coach, but he was also a real good guy.”
Altobelli was also head baseball coach at Orange Coast College for 27 seasons. He also managed players who eventually made the big leagues including Yankees slugger Aaron judge.
His son, J.J., is a scout for the Boston Red Sox and a Cape Cod Baseball League alumni.
Kenney said, “We’re kind of a family in the Cape League and the family is kind of rocked a little bit tonight for sure.”