NEW YORK -- Colter Bean was on his way to reporting to help out the Yankees on Sunday when he received a call of a different type -- one the reliever hopes he never gets again.

Bean was a high school and collegiate teammate of Josh Hancock, the Cardinals pitcher who was killed in an automobile accident Sunday in St. Louis. Bean received the call from a close friend, who knew both players growing up in Vestavia Hills, Ala., a suburb of Birmingham.

"It's tragic," Bean said. "It's one of those things that makes you stop in your tracks and say, 'What? I don't believe this.' It's just real tough."

A 30-year-old reliever, Bean was one grade level ahead of Hancock at Vestavia Hills High School, where both played on the baseball teams. As a junior in high school, Bean recalled stopping on his way to classes in the morning; as a sophomore, Hancock was not yet allowed to drive to school.

"I'd pick him up every day and take him," Bean said. "I just feel bad for his family. He was only 29 years old. It's a real bad, bad situation."

Bean also played one season of collegiate baseball at Auburn University with Hancock, who left school after the 1997 College World Series to sign professionally with the Boston Red Sox.

Josh Hancock, 1978-2007

"He was a good guy," Bean said. "He was real quiet and kind of kept to himself, but he was a good guy. He'd been around pro ball longer than me, actually. It's still a shock."

Bean said he received news of Hancock's death while waiting for his plane in the Columbus, Ohio, airport, and described his reaction as "flabbergasted." Bean said he used to see Hancock often in the offseasons, but the two had not spoken for about a year and a half.

Bean explained that Hancock had relocated to St. Louis following his run of success with the Cardinals, which included winning a World Series ring last October as the Redbirds downed the Detroit Tigers, though Bean's parents still remain in touch with Hancock's family.

"He had a great year," Bean said. "That's another sad part about it. You win a World Series, and now this happens. You never know when it's going to end. Life is too short, I guess."