Tragic. Horrific. Awful. The list of words to describe Sunday's helicopter crash in Calabasas killing nine people could go on and on. One of the victims was Orange Coast College head baseball coach John Altobelli.
For the first time in 24 seasons, the Pirates would be without their skipper on opening day.
OCC began its season at home in Costa Mesa Tuesday afternoon against Southwest College. Wendell Pickens Field was packed with family, friends, and fans ready to pay their respects to Coach Alto, his wife, Keri, and youngest daughter, Alyssa - both also passed away in the crash.
A moment of silence was held before the game, and was led by OCC sports information director and Altobelli's brother, Tony. The silence lasted 14 seconds. "14," the number Coach Alto wore for 23 years. Pirates players and coaches also wore the number in his honor.
OCC and Southwest had to end their game early due to darkness with the Pirates trailing, 7-6.
Altobelli won over 700 games at OCC, including four state titles. 26 of his victories came against Cuesta College and Cougars' head coach Bob Miller.
Miller has faced Altobelli's Pirates 43 times in his 18 years with Cuesta, mostly during non-conference play. OCC has defeated the Cougars 22 times in the last 30 matchups.
While Miller never really had a relationship with Altobelli off the diamond, he says the Pirates were the team of the decade.
"He ran a fantastic program. Their success on the diamond was really unparalleled in the last decade," Miller said. "The team, they competed hard, they reflected his desire to win baseball games, and they were obviously well-coached."
Miller continued by speaking about Altobelli's legacy in baseball. "The people that he affected, the former players, the coaches, and it's not only California but it's throughout the country. So he had a huge impact on a lot of people."
Cuesta will host OCC for a three-game series, February 6-8.