Former Red Sox slugger David Ortiz, in his first interview since surviving a hired gunman’s murder try, revealed he was in a coma after the June shooting in his native Dominican Republic.
In an interview with Univision airing in full on Sunday, Big Papi turned emotional as he detailed the failed June 9 assassination attempt in his hometown of Santo Domingo.
“I never lost memory of what happened,” said Ortiz, speaking Spanish in an excerpt released by Univision. “I remember the bullet impact and a little pinch and then the sound and falling. The first five seconds, I thought I was in a nightmare.”
The 43-year-old was rushed to the hospital, where his gallbladder was removed, as well as portions of his intestines and colon.
The following day the Red Sox flew him to Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, where he stayed for six weeks.
While Ortiz was hospitalized, all sorts of rumors spread about why the fearsome slugger with the warm, gap-toothed smile was shot.
Ortiz told Univision’s Tony Dandrades people were “that I was involved with narco traffic, women, et cetera. Nothing is reality.”
En EXCLUSIVA para @UniNoticias, David Ortiz habló sobre lo que ha vivido desde el día en que fue baleado por la espalda en Santo Domingo. Sin poder contener las lágrimas, el expelotero, relata que cuando la bala lo impactó sintió "como una picazón". https://t.co/bhUUaFLken
Hearing such talk was a “difficult process, man. I thought I was going to die," Ortiz confessed. "I was in coma, (and there were) people criticizing and saying that I deserved to die. But there were some that have showed genuine love. That’s truthful.”
Dominican police said the shooting was a case of mistaken identity, and the target was actually a man named Sixto David Fernandez. Dominican cops arrested Victor Hugo Gomez, Fernandez’s cousin, and charged him as “the mastermind” of the bungled hit.
Ortiz was shot in the back as he sat at an open-air restaurant. He was with Fernandez and wearing a similar shirt.
Big Papi has since hired former Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis to conduct an independent probe into the shooting.
Ortiz helped the 2004 Red Sox win the club’s first World Series title since 1918. He was the most valuable player of the American League Championship Series against the Yankees as the Red Sox became the first Major League Baseball team to rally from a 3-0 series deficit to win. He also led the Red Sox to titles in 2007 and 2013, winning the World Series MVP award in 2013.
He retired after the 2016 season with 541 home runs.
Big Papi is now doing better and thrilled Red Sox fans — in an otherwise lost season — by throwing out the first pitch before the Sept. 9 game against the Yankees at Fenway Park.
Despite Ortiz being a Yankee killer in his career, he was shown love by his pals in pinstripes.
“I want to thank all of you for all the prayers," he told the crowd. "All of them came home. I want to thank my former teammates for being there for me, also. I want to thank the Yankees, a lot of my boys over there came to check up on Big Papi, I appreciate it. CC (Sabathia), (Edwin) Encarnacion, all y’all man.”