NEW YORK, NEW YORK - DECEMBER 18: Gerrit Cole pose for a photo at Yankee Stadium during a press conference at Yankee Stadium on December 18, 2019 in New York City.
(Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

New York Yankees’ pitcher Gerrit Cole joins the baseball world in mourning the loss of legendary Orange Coast College coach John Altobelli.

John Altobelli was one of the nine people killed on the helicopter crash that killed Kobe Bryant. Altobelli’s wife and daughter were also on the helicopter that fateful day.

His loss has been a hard one for baseball players and fans to take. New York Mets‘ utility man Jeff McNeil has already talked about what this loss means to him. Now he’s joined by New York Yankees‘ pitcher Gerrit Cole.

Cole grew up in Orange County, CA, where Altobelli coached. He grew up around the powerhouse that was the Orange Coast College baseball program, one Altobelli made into that powerhouse.

While Cole never knew Altobelli he did know how much he meant to the community. That’s why he chose to attend OCC’s opening day in 2020 in honor of Altobelli.

Cole acknowledges that even though he never knew Altobelli, he had impacted his career. His coaches and friends learned from Altobelli, and, in turn, they helped him. That means Altobelli, even if indirectly, put a stamp on Cole’s career.

It means a lot that Cole is able to acknowledge that and thank Altobelli. Orange County baseball wouldn’t be the same without Altobelli and Cole. They have helped define what baseball means in Southern California.

Now it’s up to Cole to carry that burden by himself. It’s a heavy task, but one Cole is more than capable of completing. I doubt Altobelli could have chosen anyone better if he was given the chance.

The baseball misses John Altobelli. This season won’t be the same without him molding young players.

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