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Remembering Fort Wayne baseball legend “Mexican Joe,” lost to COVID-19

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FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WPTA21) - A Fort Wayne icon passed away this month after his battle with COVID-19 and his family and the community say he impacted many people in the city.  

Joe Ochoa, also known as “Mexican Joe”, people say he was a remarkable baseball coach, a legendary pool player and an icon in the Latino community. 

"He loved everybody,” His son Eddie Ochoa said. “My goal is to win the league and that will be for him.” 

His daughter Laura McCue and his son Eddie Ochoa say he passed away about a month ago after complications with COVID-19. 

"He had a stroke in March, and this month he caught COVID, died with COVID,” McCue said. "Everyone has their own memories, their own stories, and their all loving.” 

Ochoa coached the baseball team called “The Blackies” in the 70s, which later became the “Margarita Blues” a part of the Fort Wayne Stan Musial League.  

McCue says he was also an icon in entertainment and one of the best pool players around. 

“He loved the Mexican community, the Latin community, Hispanics,” McCue said. “He would bring in bands so the weekends everybody had a place to go."

Lance Hershberger and Gary Rogers were played on his team, which they say inspired them to become baseball coaches.  

"Joe was a great guy, he would give you the shirt off his back,” Leo High School Baseball Coach Gary Rogers said. "One of the funnest times I ever had playing baseball was with Joe.” 

Ivy Tech baseball Head Coach Lance Hershberger says Ochoa was a role model to everyone.  

“He was much more than a baseball coach to us,” Hershberger said. "You don’t remember the scores of the games, you remember the relationships of people, that’s what I remember from Joe.” 

They say they will be carrying on the legacy of “Mexican Joe” through their own coaching and the lessons he taught them throughout their lives.   

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Karli VanCleave

Karli VanCleave is a multimedia journalist at WPTA for the evening newscast. Karli is a Fort Wayne native and Indiana University Bloomington graduate.
Feel free to connect with her on Facebook (@KarliVanCleaveNews) and Twitter (@Karli_VanCleave), or if you have a story idea send her an email at kvancleave@wpta21.com.

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