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Coachella Valley baseball community reacts to the death of Orange Coast College coach John Altobelli

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Longtime scout for the Chicago Cubs and La Quinta resident Denny Henderson fought back tears as he remembered his friend, coach John Altobelli, who Henderson and others affectionately called "Alto".

Henderson met the coach more than 25 years ago when Henderson scouted Altobelli's players at Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa.

"It is tough for everybody in the baseball community who knew them, because they were a staple at Orange Coast and had helped a ton of people over the years," said Henderson.

Like Henderson, Altobelli was also a big Chicago Cubs fan, who were a frequent topic of conversation for the friends.

The retired scout says the coach also frequently talked about his children who Henderson says were often at the ball park with their father.

"He doesn't have a player who played for him that he doesn't love and he took a lot of people under his wing," said Henderson.

Henderson describes Altobelli using words like "tough, professional, sincere", and "having a huge heart".

They are qualities which no doubt led to Altobelli recently being named 2019 "National Coach of the Year" by the American Baseball Coaches Association.

Andrew Starkey, the General Manager of the Palm Springs Power baseball team says he had a number of phone conversations with Altobelli over the past several years.

"He was a baseball guy. When you are a junior college baseball coach, you are not in it for the money, you are in it for the love of the game," said Starkey.

Starkey says a half dozen players from Orange Coast College have come to play for the Palm Springs Power over the years and says the players were "well coached".

Henderson says the loss of the coach leaves a big void at Orange Coast College.

"Everybody in the baseball community is a bit heartbroken right now," said Henderson.

A GoFundMe account is currently raising money for Altobell's family and funeral expenses.

Link: https://www.gofundme.com/f/support-for-the-altobelli-family

Funeral arrangements for the Altobelli family members have not yet been announced.

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Tom Tucker

Tom Tucker is a veteran broadcast journalist with nearly 20 years of experience. Learn more about Tom here.

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