(KRON) — After winning the 1991 World Series, the Minnesota Twins used their first pick of the 1992 MLB Draft on a talented left-handed pitching prospect from San Mateo who they believed could help their championship core.
That man was Danny Serafini, who pitched three seasons for the Twins and was an MLB player until 2007. Thirty-one years after he was drafted, he was hauled away in a cop car in connection with the Lake Tahoe slaying of his father-in-law, the Placer County Sheriff’s Office said.
Who is Danny Serafini?
Minnesota selecting Serafini in the first round of the draft set him up to be the latest baseball star to come out of Junipero Serra High School in San Mateo, a school that has produced a dozen MLB players.
Serafini pitched in the minor leagues from 1992-1995, and he made his MLB debut in 1996 at age 22. That was the only big-league game Serafini pitched in 1996, and he appeared in just six more in 1997. In 1998, he saw extended action but struggled, prompting the Twins to sell him to the Chicago Cubs the next offseason.
After failing to make the majors with several organizations in 2001, Serafini’s next step was abroad, pitching in the Chinese and Mexican baseball leagues before making it back to the show with the Cincinnati Reds in 2003. He pitched for the Chiba Lotte Marines and Orix Buffaloes in Japan from 2004-2007 before once again returning to MLB in 2007 for the Colorado Rockies.
Serafini, then 33, was suspended 50 games for a failed performance-enhancing drug test, a brutal blow to his career. He later told SF Gate that the drug was given to him by a doctor in Japan to help him recover from a torn Achilles. When Serafini asked the doctor to testify for him, the doctor requested $500,000 to do it, according to Serafini.
“I got completely hosed by Major League Baseball,” he told SF Gate. “My kids read stuff in the paper, that I was cheating. It was bull****. I’ve been kind of blackballed in the States ever since.”
While he never made it back to the big leagues, Serafini didn’t stop pitching. He pitched in the World Baseball Classic for Team Italy, as well as in Mexico, Venezuela and an independent American league before finally retiring in 2013 at age 39.
After his playing days, the well-traveled pitcher reportedly opened a pitching academy called “Throw Like a Pro Baseball Academy” and a bar called “Bullpen Bar” in Sparks, NV.
Serafini’s bar was featued on the show Bar Rescue. According to the show’s website, Serafini’s staff “treated the bar like it was their personal liquor cabinet” and he fell $300,000 in debt.
On June 5, 2021, Placer County Sheriff’s detectives were called to a North Lake Tahoe home and found Robert Gary Spohr, 70, and his wife, Wendy Wood, 68, with gunshot wounds. Spohr was dead, but Wood survived her injuries. Unable to recover from her husband’s death, she took her own life a year later, the couple’s daughter told the San Francisco Chronicle.
Police were given a clue, finding surveillance footage of a man wearing a hood, face covering and backpack walking to the home several hours before the killing. Serafini, 49, and Samantha Scott, 33, were identified as suspects.
Serafini was married to the deaceased couple’s daughter, Erin. Authorities have not released a motive behind the murder.
Serafini was arrested in Winnemucca, NV on Friday and Scott was arrested in Las Vegas. The ex-ballplayer is expected to be charged with the murder of Spohr and the attempted murder of Wood.