By Steve Large

WEST SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – There was a somber start to the River Cats baseball broadcast at Sutter Health Park over the weekend.

Former MLB player and current River Cats broadcaster Steve Sax’s son John died in a training exercise while piloting an aircraft in the Southern California desert last week.

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Fans held a moment of silence for John Sax before Saturday’s game.

“He was Steve’s hero,” said fellow River Cats broadcaster Johnny Doskow. “Steve said he was his best friend – the strongest, best man he ever knew.”

Steve Sax posted a remembrance of his son on Instagram, writing that John “loved being a Marine.”

“He was an amazing husband, father, brother, uncle, friend, nephew, cousin and the absolute best son any man could ask for. He is and always will be my hero,” Steve wrote.

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Christopher Braun, the oner of NorCal Flight School in Lincoln, hired John in 2016 before Sax entered the military.

“He was a really bright star and a really positive influence,” Braun said. “I knew that he had aspirations of being a military pilot, so yeah it didn’t take long to hire him and we really enjoyed having him.”

Captain Sax died along with four other Marines when an osprey aircraft crashed during routine flight training east of San Diego.

The crash is under investigation.

“[It’s] unfathomable what this family is going through. Our deepest sympathy with the Sax family as they’re grieving at this time,” Braun said.

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John Sax leaves behind a wife – who is expecting the couple’s second child – and a young daughter.