Now holding the honors as the longest-tenured baseball coach in school history, John Altobelli enters his 24th season as the head coach of the Orange Coast baseball program.
The Pirates made history under Altobelli's guidance in 2015, as they successfully defended their state baseball title with a return trip to Fresno and wins over nationally top-ranked San Joaquin Delta, No. 2 ranked Palomar and the No. 1 Mustangs again to win the title. Coast, which finished third in the Orange Empire Conference, battled all the way through the playoffs as a No. 10 seed and won three straight best-of-three series over higher-ranked opponents (No. 7 Long Beach, No. 8 Glendale and No. 3 Santa Barbara) to earn a return trip to the State Final Four. In the final two series against Glendale and SBCC, the Pirates had to win the final two games after dropping the series opener.
Two seasons ago, the Pirates (36-9) returned to the top of the baseball mountain by winning the 2014 CCCAA State Baseball Championship with a win over Sequoias (3-1), and a pair of victories over San Joaquin Delta (4-1 and 5-3), capping off a season-ending 15-game win streak. As one of the most talented teams in OCC history, the Pirates earned the nation’s No. 1 ranking at the end of the season and the team’s strong efforts on and off the field enabled 16 players continue their playing careers at the four-year level in 2015.
In 2013, Altobelli joined the “500-Win Club” with a 3-2, 10-inning win over Palomar on Feb. 22, becoming the 24th coach in the history of California Community College to reach that milestone.
The 2012 team was one of the best in school history as the Pirates finished with a record of 36-7-1. OCC, outright winners of the Orange Empire Conference for the first time since 1987, was ranked No. 1 in the nation for most of the 2012 season before a rough pair of games in the State Final Four stopped Coast’s drive for a state title.
The 36 wins was the second-most in school history (equaled in 2014) and OCC’s .829 winning percentage was the third-best in school history.
In 2011, Altobelli helped guide the Pirates to a 32-10 record and a trip to the Southern California Super Regional Finals. That Pirates team averaged over eight runs per game and sent several players to four-year programs.
Altobelli and the Pirates made history in more ways than one in 2009. With 37 wins, Altobelli surpassed longtime head coach Mike Mayne on the school’s all-time wins list with 402, topping Mayne’s 400 career wins. On May 24, he earned win No. 401 with a win over Diablo Valley in the second round of the State Championships.
However, it was the 402nd win that will stay in the minds of Altobelli, his coaching staff and all associated with the Pirates. With a 10-7 win over San Joaquin Delta on May 25, Coast wrapped up the team’s fourth state championship in school history, its first since 1980.
The 37 wins in 2009 were the most in school history and the most ever in Altobelli’s 17-year career. He was named Co-Orange Empire Conference Coach the Year, as well as Southern California and State Coach of the Year in 2009. He earned both honors again in 2014 after claiming his second state baseball title in his career.
Seven years ago, Orange Coast racked up 32 wins, finished second in the always-tough Orange Empire Conference and advanced to the Super Regionals for the second year in a row.
Eight years ago, the Pirates advanced to, and hosted, the 2007 Southern California Super Regionals after a solid second-place finish in the OEC.
"Alto" guided the Bucs to a 30-win season for the second time in his tenure in 2002, repeating the feat of his first season in charge. The Pirates advanced to the super regional against conference-foe Riverside that season after capturing the regional tournament at L.A. Harbor.
Five times chosen the Orange Empire Conference Coach of the Year and two-time State Coach of the Year, Altobelli became the sixth head coach at Orange Coast in June of 1992. His enthusiasm and knowledge of the game have helped him turn the Coast program into a perennial favorite to compete for the conference championship.
Altobelli reached the 300-win mark in 2006 and three times in his career, he has helped guide the Pirates to the State Final Four in Fresno.
A former assistant for Mike Gerakos at UC Irvine, Altobelli used his five years of experience there as a fundraiser to help make much-needed upgrades to the Pirates' home park, Wendell Pickens Field. The changes included a full scoreboard, new sound system, snack stand, bathrooms, improved batting cages and bullpens as well as a better playing surface.
While at UC Irvine, Altobelli was responsible for offensive strategy, defensive alignment and hitting. He began his coaching career at his alma mater, Newport Harbor High School, as the junior varsity coach, in 1986. The following year, he moved on to be a graduate assistant at the University of Houston.
As a player, Altobelli was a standout outfielder at both Newport Harbor and then at Golden West College. As a sophomore in 1983, he was chosen team captain and was named the team's "Rustler of the Year." Altobelli transferred to the University of Houston, where he was a team captain and two-year starter in the Cougar outfield. As a senior, he led the Cougars to the NCAA Regional Finals, bringing them one game from advancing to the College World Series. Following college, Altobelli played one season of professional baseball with the Miami Marlins of the Florida State League.
Altobelli earned his Bachelor of Science degree in physical education from the University of Houston in 1987, then, picked up a master's degree in education from Azusa Pacific University the following year.
Five years ago, Altobelli took his knowledge to the East Coast and was an assistant coach in the prestigious Cape Cod League. From 2012 to 2014, Altobelli was the head coach of the Cape Cod League’s Brewster Whitecaps.
Altobelli’s son, J.J. is finished his baseball career as a player and has begun his coaching career as a graduate assistant with his former team, the University of Oregon.
John and his wife, Keri, along with daughters Alexis and Alyssa reside in Newport Beach.