Yankees' Gerrit Cole visits Orange Coast College, which played its first game without coach John Altobelli

The sports world is still reeling over the helicopter crash Sunday in Calabasas, Calif., that claimed the lives of nine people, including former Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna Bryant. The college baseball world lost 27-year Orange Coast College head coach John Altobelli, along with his wife, Keri, and daughter Alyssa, in that same crash. 

On Tuesday, the OCC Pirates took the diamond for a game for the first time without their coach in decades, squaring off against Southwestern. It was the first game of the season for the defending state Junior College champions. 

The state title was actually the fourth in Altobelli's storied career as he led his squad to over 700 victories in his 27 seasons. Altobelli also coached in the Cape Cod summer league, where Jeff McNeil of the Mets and Aaron Judge of the Yankees are a few of the notable players he mentored. 

On the occasion of his team taking the field without him for the first time since the accident claimed his life, it was unsurprisingly no ordinary game. 

Newly-signed Yankees ace Gerrit Cole was there, among many others, to pay his respects. 

That twitter account (@randi_radcliffe) is a good spot for those interested in the pictures/coverage of the scene.

There's a sign at the entrance that says "THE HOUSE THAT ALTO BUILT." There's a good video of the two teams hugging before the game in a nice show of how tragedies really bring sports worlds -- often called fraternities in instances like this -- together. The OCC players, per Radcliffe's tweets, had Altobelli's name on the sleeve and every player was wearing his number 14. 

There's also a memorial area. 

The result of the game certainly takes a backseat to the players taking the field and playing in honor of their fallen coach. Healing was easily the most important thing here for those impacted. 

CBS Sports Writer

Matt Snyder has been a baseball writer with CBS Sports since 2011. A member of the BBWAA, he's now covered every World Series since 2010. The former Indiana University baseball player now lives on the... Full Bio

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