By Tony Parra: Freedom Newspapers
Dan Howard of Elida lost a lifelong friend when Elida High School graduate and New York Yankees minor league manager Oscar Acosta, 49, was killed Wednesday in a car accident in the Dominican Republic.
Howard and Acosta played baseball together at Elida High. Acosta was a star pitcher in high school and went on to play college ball at Dallas Baptist and pitched in the minor leagues.
He was the manager of the Rookie League’s Gulf Coast Yankees and also served as pitching coach for the Chicago Cubs and Texas Rangers during his long coaching career.
“We were best friends, and we grew up together,” said Howard, a rancher and girls basketball coach at Elida. “He would call and ask how things are going.
“It hurts pretty deep.”
A 1974 Elida High graduate, Acosta is survived by his wife, Kathy, daughters Melissa and Amanda, and son Ryan, who attended Portales Junior High and high school before moving to Florida with his mother.
Howard coached Acosta’s daughters at Elida.
“He was a very good father,” Howard said. “He was strict. His children really looked up to him.”
Kyle Harris, son of Portales Junior High Principal Steve Harris, is married to Amanda Acosta.
“He was a great gentleman,” Harris said. “He was very involved in his kids’ lives. He was very successful at what he did.
“Oscar went to many different places in the United States and some of those people came to the wedding. Because he was a pitching coach with the Yankees, there were some Yankee players who came to the wedding.”
Acosta and Humberto Trejo, the Yankees’ field coordinator in the Dominican, were killed in an accident on a highway outside of Santo Domingo Wednesday night, the AP report stated. No further details of the accident were available.
“They were both fine men and great Yankees,” owner George Steinbrenner said in a press release from the Yankees about Acosta and Trejo.
Acosta was in his third year as manager of the Gulf Coast team, which he led to league championships the last two seasons.
“Oscar Acosta and Humberto Trejo touched countless people within our organization,” general manager Brian Cashman said in the press release. “Their dedication and passion to improving young lives far exceed the boundaries of a baseball field.”
Howard, a catcher, remembers playing semi-pro baseball in Dallas with Acosta in 1976 after they graduated high school.
“It was great. We had a lot of fun playing baseball,” Howard said. “He was a great athlete.
“He definitely loved baseball and he loved coaching.”
The Yankees rookie club canceled Thursday’s extended spring training game against Toronto following the accident, and the flags at the team’s minor league complex and Legends Field were at half-staff, according to the release.
The Yankees will observe a moment of silence in honor of Acosta and Trejo prior to today’s 5:05 p.m. (MDT) game versus the Baltimore Orioles at Yankee Stadium, according to the Major League Baseball Web site.