Seven years after surviving a terrifying kidnapping in his home country, it’s clear very little that happens on a baseball field can faze new Mets catcher Wilson Ramos.
In November of 2011, a few months after the end of his rookie season in the major leagues, four armed men pulled Ramos by force into a car and whisked him away to a secluded cabin in the mountains of Venezuela, where he was held for 51 hours. His family feared he would be killed, but in the early morning hours more than a full day later, the national guard rushed the house and freed Ramos after a gunfight. President Hugo Chavez gave the go-ahead for the rescue mission, and Ramos was reunited with his family.
A year after the harrowing incident, Ramos spoke about it to the Washington Post.
“I know it’s been a year and remembering it, it was a sad moment and I hope to get away from it and forget about it,” Ramos said at the time. “It’ll be hard to totally forget something like that. But, overall, I’m pretty calm now.”
The kidnappers, knowing Ramos was a professional baseball player, were looking for a hefty ransom by holding him captive. Ramos understandably was hesitant to return to his home country in the aftermath, and his family moved to a safer city that they would not disclose, according to the Washington Post, for fear of anything like this happening again.
“I love my country and being there, but after what happened, it’s hard to think about it and forget about it,” he told the paper.
The abduction was a major news story in Venezuela, where players and fans at three stadiums throughout the country wore a green letter “W” on their uniforms in solidarity with Ramos, hoping he would be found alive.
Just a few weeks ago, two Venezuelan former major leaguers, Luis Valbuena and Jose Castillo, were killed in a car crash in their home country when hijackers reportedly put a rock in the middle of the road to cause the accident.
After Ramos’ horrifying kidnapping, he returned to the major leagues and spent six productive seasons with Washington, though he was hampered by injuries, including a torn ACL that occurred during the season after his abduction.
With all of that in the past, Ramos now joins the Mets in Flushing, where he’ll immediately bring a productive power bat to a lineup that has lacked any production at all from the catcher spot in recent years.