BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — Former Brewster Whitecaps head coach John Altobelli was among the nine people killed in the helicopter crash that took the life of NBA legend Kobe Bryant. Altobelli’s wife Keri and daughter Alyssa were on board the helicopter and tragically passed, as well.
During Altobelli’s time as the Whitecaps head coach, he saw a handful of Alabama baseball players on his rosters.
In 2012, former Crimson Tide catcher Brett Booth saw action in 14 games for an Altobelli coached team that included MLB star Aaron Judge.
In the summer of 2014, former Alabama outfielder Gerogie Salem, shortstop Mikey White, and second baseman Kyle Overstreet played for the Whitecaps in Altobelli’s final season in the Cape Cod Baseball League.
Booth and Salem remember the impact Coach “Alto” had on their lives.
“He was famous, in a way, out in California and the way that he impacted players followed him from the time he started coaching to now. I remember looking back on players that he coached on Brewster teams before I played, Aaron Judge [was on the team], that’s some cool stuff,” Salem said.
“He could take the best player on the team and the worst player on the team and make them feel important. At the end of the day, athletes want to play for a guy that they would run through a brick ball for. I think Alto had that niche of making the number one guy on the team and the last guy on the team both feel like they’d run through a brick wall for him,” Booth said.
Altobelli, his wife Keri and daughter Alyssa are survived by son J.J. and daughter Alexis.