Yankees ace Gerrit Cole paid tribute to the victims of the Kobe Bryant helicopter crash Tuesday by attending the season opener for the Orange Coast College baseball program.
The college’s longtime coach John Altobelli, his wife Keri and their teenage daughter Alyssa, who was a teammate of Bryant’s late daughter Gianna, were among the nine killed when the chopper went down Sunday northwest of Los Angeles on its way to the girls’ game at Bryant’s basketball facility.
Altobelli was entering his 24th season as baseball coach at the school in Costa Mesa, Calif., about 70 miles southeast of Calabasas where the accident occurred.
Orange Coast players voted to play the game, which assistant coach Ron La Ruffa told reporters is what John would have wanted.
The team honored Altobelli’s memory by wearing his No. 14 and winning, 8-1. Altobelli led the program to more than 700 wins and four state championships during his career.
“John meant so much to not only Orange Coast College, but to baseball,” said Jason Kehler, the school’s athletic director. “He truly personified what it means to be a baseball coach. The passion that he put into the game, but more…