Skip to main content
Publish date:

Twins reliever Sergio Romo played 1 season under college coach killed in helicopter crash

John Altobelli was among nine people killed in a helicopter crash in California.
Author:

Among the victims of the helicopter crash that killed Lakers legend Kobe Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, and seven others on Sunday was a long time college baseball coach. 

John Altobelli, 56, died in the crash along with his wife, Keri, and daughter, Alyssa. Altobelli's connection to Minnesota is through Twins reliever Sergio Romo, whom he coached for one season in the early 2000s. 

In fact, it was Romo's first year playing organized college baseball after growing up through the high school ranks in Brawley, a small town located about 20 miles north of the U.S.-Mexico border in Southern California. 

John Altobelli

John Altobelli

Romo played the 2001 season at Orange Coast College, then played the next two seasons at another junior college (Arizona Western) before making the leap to Division II at North Alabama and Mesa State in 2004 and 2005, respectively. Those years led him to him being drafted by the San Francisco Giants in 2005. 

Sixteen years later Romo finds himself in Minnesota while Altobelli was about to begin his 28th season Orange Coast College before Sunday's tragic crash. He was entering the 2020 season after being named the 2019 National Coach of the Year by the American Baseball Coaches Association, having led Orange Coast College to a state championship. 

"It's hard to put into words what this loss means to the college and the athletics department," OCC Athletics Director Jason Kehler said in a release. "John was a tremendous coach and an even better friend. Beyond that, he was an amazing mentor to all of the students and athletes that he taught and coached. He treated them all like family and his impact will live on forever."

Related: Past, present MN athletes react to Kobe Bryant's death

According to ESPN, the Altobelli's daughter was teammates with Bryant's daughter and they were headed to a basketball game when the crash happened in the hills of Calabasas, approximately 30 miles northwest of Los Angeles. 

Note: Marty Cordova, who won the 1995 American League Rookie of the Year award, was drafted by the Twins out of Orange Coast College in 1989, just a few years before Altobelli got there. 

Next Up

Gopher Football

Gophers suffocate Badgers, reclaim Paul Bunyan's Axe

Minnesota picked up its first home win over the Badgers since 2003.

Meeker County Sheriff's Office

Boy, 6, run over after falling off trailer in Meeker Co. tree farm accident

He was airlifted to Hennepin County Medical Center with internal injuries.

Target store

Target unveils deals for 2-day 'Cyber Monday' event

The promotion kicks off Sunday, November 28.

Screen Shot 2021-11-27 at 9.59.30 AM

Edina police warn of recent burglary trend targeting garages and vehicles

The Edina Police Department is increasing patrols in affected neighborhoods in response to the trend.

Screen Shot 2021-11-27 at 9.03.06 AM

Charges: Man shot Uber Eats driver making a delivery in Cottage Grove

Otis Donnell Shipp was charged with second-degree attempted murder after turning himself in on Wednesday.

Screen Shot 2021-11-27 at 7.36.14 AM

Waterfront hotel in Duluth sustains damage in kitchen fire

Authorities estimate the damage at around $75,000.

Screen Shot 2021-11-27 at 7.15.18 AM

Large groups of thieves target 2 Twin Cities Best Buys on Black Friday

It bears similarities to the flash-mob style thefts seen recently in California.

Karl-Anthony Towns

Timberwolves' winning streak snapped at five games

The Wolves' bid for their longest winning streak since 2014 came up short.

Screen Shot 2020-08-14 at 6.45.53 PM

Teen arrested over fatal shooting of 5-year-old boy in Brooklyn Park

Police say the teen was filming a social media video while handling a gun.

Joe Biden

President Biden coming to Minnesota to promote Bipartisan Infrastructure Law

Tuesday's trip follows passage of the $1.2 trillion Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal.

Kirill Kaprizov

Kaprizov gets into the holiday spirit to rout Jets

Kirill Kaprizov's four points led the Wild to a 7-1 victory.

Related

Sergio Romo

Report: Twins bringing back reliever Sergio Romo

The veteran right-hander was excellent out of the bullpen last season.

Screen Shot 2020-01-27 at 7.23.29 PM

Wolves pay tribute to Kobe Bryant in 1st game since his death

Bryant, 41, was killed in a helicopter crash Sunday near Los Angeles.

Sergio Romo

Sergio Romo, Tyler Clippard give veteran boost to Twins' bullpen

Minnesota's bullpen could be really good in the shortened season.

Kobe Bryant

Athletes react with shock to news of Kobe Bryant's death

Multiple outlets have confirmed that Bryant died in a helicopter crash.

Sergio Romo

Twins decline 2021 option on Sergio Romo

The Twins begin a potential overhaul in the bullpen.

Sergio Romo

Numbers say Twins now have 3 of MLB's best relievers

The two trade acquisitions could prove to be key down the stretch.

37208030012_834e2f4b63_k

Twins acquire Sergio Romo and Chris Vallimont from Marlins

It looks like the Twins will get some pitching help.