Whitecaps Officials Remember Life of Former Manager

HYANNIS – The Brewster Whitecaps and the Cape Cod Baseball League continue to mourn the loss of former manager John Altobelli.

Whitecaps General Manager Ned Monthie said he was devastated when he heard the news that Altobelli, and his wife, Keri, and daughter, Alyssa, died in the helicopter crash Sunday in Southern California that killed nine people, including NBA great Kobe Bryant.

“At first I didn’t believe it,” Monthie said.

He had heard about the crash and the death of Bryant.

“All of a sudden I got a text about that they think John was in the crash with his wife and his daughter,” Monthie said.

Monthie was then told the news was true by one of John’s best friends and he said he was overtaken by emotion.

Altobelli, who was the current manager of Orange Coast College in California, led the Whitecaps from 2012-2014.

Monthie said he first met John when he came to Whitecaps as an assistant coach. At the conclusion of that season, the previously manager left the team and Altobelli was promoted to manager.

Monthie said it is hard to explain who John was, but that it was best summed up by his former players, who he reached out to after hearing of John’s death.

Jeff McNeil, who is an infielder and outfielder for the New York Mets, played for Altobelli and the Whitecaps in 2012.

McNeil tweeted Sunday and said it was tough hearing the news of his former manager’s death.

“One of my favorite coaches I have ever played for and one of the main reasons I got a chance to play professional baseball,” he wrote.

After a couple of tough years at Long Beach State, McNeil said Altobelli took a chance on him and kept him on the Whitecaps for the summer.

A former Whitecaps teammate of McNeil in 2012 and New York Yankees All-Star, Aaron Judge, also tweeted in response to Altobelli’s death Sunday.

“This isn’t real…,” he wrote.

Monthie said Altobelli’s players had great respect for him.

“He was a fantastic baseball man. He understood the game,” Monthie said. “But he understood the boys also, and how they dealt with their frustrations and their expectations.”

Monthie said he last saw John earlier in the month in Nashville at a convention.

Monthie congratulated him for winning a National Coach of the Year award by the American Baseball Coaches Association.

“We were talking and we were joking about him being at Brewster and how things have changed and everything,” he said.

Monthie said many people have reached out to him and other Whitecaps officials after hearing the news.

“He was a coach, but he was an educator,” Monthie said. “He taught boys. He taught young men how to be better people – both in baseball and in life.”

Monthie said he hopes people remember John as a positive man and an educator.

“He loved people,” he said.

Brewster Whitecaps officials have a scheduled meeting in February and Monthie said he expects a discussion about John and how they plan on honoring him this summer.

“At this time we haven’t even thought about that,” Monthie said. “We are just trying to get our thoughts together.”

Altobelli’s son J.J., who played for the Whitecaps, was not on the helicopter. They are also survived by another daughter, Alexis.

According to the Orange County Register, Alyssa was a basketball teammate of Bryant’s 13-year-old daughter Gianna, who also died in the crash.

Altobelli was an eight-time Orange Empire Conference Coach of the Year and four-time State Coach of the Year while at Orange Coast College. He joined the college in 1992.

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