TUCSON (KVOA) – Rich Alday, the coaching icon in the Old Pueblo and all throughout the southwest was found dead Wednesday morning.
Alday helped start the Pima Community College baseball team in 1974 and coached the Aztecs to over 500 career victories.
He also notched over 500 victories at the Division 1 University UNM, where he helped pave the way for countless New Mexico Lobos to professional baseball careers.
Alday made a profound impact on the lives of both women and men. In fact, he led the Ironwood High School softball team to state titles in 2014 and 2016.
“All death is horrible, but this one is going to be up there with my dad’s (death),” said former California Angels standout baseball player Jack Howell, who played for Alday at Pima College, "What hurts and is going to be missing is just to be able to call him and thank him for not only what he did for me and my family, but for a lot of people.”
Howell held back tears as he opened up to News 4 Tucson Sports Director Paul Cicala about the life of his former coach and father-figure.
“He was a mentor, a teacher, a friend, a motivator. He’s going to be missed deeply,” added Howell.
After his time coaching the Ironwood High School softball team, Alday returned to Pima College and was hired for the 2017 baseball season.
“He was just a huge part of my life,” said former Pima College Athletic Director Edgar Soto.
Soto, who is now the Vice President at Pima College for the Desert Vista Campus, hired Alday in 2017. Soto also left the Old Pueblo to play baseball at the University of New Mexico for Alday.
“He always made you feel like you were important and very special, not just as a player, but as a person. It would show with his connection with you after you were done playing for him,” said Soto, “He and his wife Norma would connect with the rest of your family, so he knew your family and he knew your kids.”
Alday coached at New Mexico for 18 seasons and left the school as the Lobos all-time leader in wins, compiling 515 victories.
“I'm saddened with the passing of Coach Alday, a man I had the pleasure of playing for and coaching with, said Antonio Fernandez, a former Sunnyside High School standout who left Tucson to play for Alday at New Mexico, “My heart is heavy as I lost a father figure and mentor today. He was strong in his faith, valued his family, and was passionate about developing men and women through coaching. Coach Alday loved his wife Norma dearly and to this day would get a smile on his face when he spoke of her- married for 51 yearrs. I'm at peace knowing Coach Alday is in heaven reunited and playing catch with his beautiful son Ambrose. Our thoughts and prayers are with coach, Norma and the Alday family.”
Alday, who was also an all-state quarterback at Tucson High School in 1965, was inducted into the Pima County Sports Hall of Fame in 1994 and was part of the first HOF class at Pima College in 2013.
Alday also coached the USA Olympics National Baseball teams in 1988 and 1996. He helped lead TEAM USA to a bronze medal in the 1996 Olympics.
“Tucson lost a great coach Today,” said Armando Quiroz, who’s coached softball at the college & high school level, “I lost a dear friend today. Rich Alday’s legacy lives in all of us who were blessed to know him. R.I.P. Coach.”