WACO, Texas (KWTX) Baylor baseball begins the regular season in a couple weeks. For volunteer assistant coach Mitch Karraker, the past 36 hours have been more overwhelming than anything because of his close personal tie with the Altobelli family.
John Altobelli was the coach for Orange Coast College. He, along with is wife Keri and daughter Alyssa, were on board the helicopter that crashed yesterday in Calabasas that also claimed the life of Kobe Bryant.
Karraker's connection to the Altobelli family goes back to his college baseball days at Oregon. J-J Altobelli and Karraker were teammates at Oregon, but Karraker actually coached with JJ's dad, John, a few years ago and learned that the eldest Altobelli obviously loved baseball, but caring for people and the relationships with them even more.
"I talk to him briefly yesterday. As you can imagine he had a lot of people calling him and reaching out. I just wanted to tell him I love him and I'm thinking about him. It was a hard conversation for sure. I first met the family playing with his oldest son JJ at Oregon. JJ ended up coaching with me in summer ball. Of course I got to know Alto all those years. In 2016 I got to coach with him for the collegiate national team. That was a great experience and getting to know him personally. That's kind of where our relationship grew. We stayed in contact ever since and he'd been a great mentor for me," said Karraker.