The manager of the Philadelphia Phillies remembered the New Jersey native who died in last week's Ethiopian Airlines crash as a passionate fan who was excited by the signing of Bryce Harper.

Matt Vecere, who grew up in Sea Isle City, was one of 157 passengers and crew killed when the plane went down last Sunday, according to his employer, IQAir.

Phillies manager Gabe Kapler in a message on Twitter said friends of Vecere told him they were at a spring training game on the day Harper was signed by the Phillies to a $330 million, 17-year contract. Vercere yelled "bat him third and he'll give you 90 runs," Vecere's friends told Kapler.

According to Kapler, Vecere was going to Kenya for the United Nations Environmental Assembly.

"Matt was passionate about getting air and water filters to underprivileged communities and had a particular love for Haiti after doing work there over many years," Kapler wrote. He hoped fans could return the love he had for the Phillies by doing something for a cause that Vecere cared about.

"His mother described those as 'the environment, civil rights, social and economic justice and advocating for those less fortunate.'" Kapler wrote.

Vecere graduated from Stockton University in 2002. He also co-founded of Emprofit, which he described on his Linkedin page as "a social business creating economic opportunities in resource-poor settings." He was living in California at the time of his death.

A memorial for Vecere was held Friday night at the Catalyst Surf Shop in San Clemente, California, according to a message shared on the Heritage Surf Shop Instagram page.

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNJ

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