- PHOTO COURTESY OF ROCHESTER RED WINGS
The Rochester Red Wings announced on Wednesday that Joe Altobelli, known as Rochester’s “Mr. Baseball,” died from natural causes at the age of 88.
Altobelli filled more roles for the organization than anyone else, serving as a player, coach, manager, general manager, assistant to the president, and radio analyst.
Born in Detroit, Altobelli had a 59-year professional baseball career, beginning right after high school. In 1966, while playing for the Red Wings, he moved his family to Rochester and made the area his permanent home.
As a Red Wing, “Alto” hit 47 homers from 1963 through 1966, winning a Governors’ Cup in 1964 and an International League Pennant in 1966.
Altobelli also played parts of three seasons in the major leagues, with the Cleveland Indians in 1955 and 1957, and the Minnesota Twins in 1961.
His coaching career began with an 11-year stint in the Baltimore Orioles minor league system, culminating with managing the Red Wings in Rochester from 1971 through 1976.
Altobelli led the Red Wings to first place finishes in 1971, 1973, 1974 and 1976, capturing the Governors’ Cup in 1971 and 1974, the Junior World Series in 1971, and the International League pennant in 1976.
He was a three-time International League Manager of the Year, and his 502 wings are the most in Red Wings' history.
Altobelli's Major League career included coaching positions with the New York Yankees and the Chicago Cubs., but his crowning coaching achievement came when he became manager of the Baltimore Orioles in 1983. He led them to their first World Series title since 1970, and was named the 1983 American League Manager of the Year.
In the fall of 1991, Altobelli returned to Rochester to lead the Red Wings as their general manager, a title he held until his retirement from that role in January 1995.
A celebration of Joe Altobelli’s life will be held at Frontier Field on a date to be determined later this year.
Randy Gorbman is the news director at WXXI News, a media partner of CITY.