Baseball fans across the world were stunned to hear that David “Big Papi” Ortiz had been shot at the Dial Bar & Lounge in Santo Domingo, Ortiz’s hometown in the Dominican Republic. Support for the former baseball superstar poured in from around the world. Fortunately, the shooting did not prove to be fatal.
This scary story could’ve been much worse. Those who followed Ortiz’s career know it’s exactly the type of event the slugger feared growing up. Here are all the details about Ortiz’s nightmare-come-true.
A busy retiree
In the opening pages of his book, “Papi: My Life Story,” Ortiz shared about seeing a man murdered on his way to a bodega when he was a child. He wrote about the way dangerous events shaped him into the man he’s become. Ortiz was inspired to become a baseball player and get himself out of a world where he constantly feared for his life.
Ortiz became a beloved figure in Boston sports, gaining three championships, including the famous 2004 win, which broke the 86-year title drought for the storied franchise. Now, the retired 43-year-old lives in Miami but frequently visits the Dominican Republic. Ortiz devotes his time to a variety of business ventures, including a cigar company.
The shooting details
Ortiz was hanging out with friends at Dial Bar & Lounge when a gunman opened fire from close range. The former MLB player was struck in the back and required a gall bladder removal and liver surgery. Following his six-hour procedure, Ortiz was in good enough health to be transferred to Massachusetts General Hospital.
He received support from former teammates, current players, and even former president Barack Obama, who tweeted a picture from one of Ortiz’s trips to the White House following a Red Sox victory.
People immediately speculated about the motives of such a senseless act. Was it a robbery gone wrong, a targeted act of aggression, or something else? The explanation seems to be a case of mistaken identity. Evidently, one of Ortiz’s cousins, Sixto David Fernandez, was the true target of the hit.
The mastermind, Victor Hugo Gomez, was detained for planning the failed hit, according to a tweet from the Dominican police. Authorities also arrested the alleged financier, Alberto Rodriguez Mota, who was on his way to Puerto Rico.
Police have 13 people in custody, including gunman Rolfi Ferreira Cruz, who was quickly apprehended by the nearby crowd and handed over. Prosecutors are left to sort out the motives. Was it truly a hit gone wrong?
Fernandez was sitting near Ortiz during the shooting, but they do not look alike. According to CNN, the baseball legend is 6-foot-3 and 250 pounds. His cousin has a lighter complexion and thinner, smaller frame. But police believe Gomez requested the hit due to a grudge against Fernandez, who may have turned him in to Dominican authorities in 2011.
Ortiz has responded well to medical treatment. Doctors expect him to make a full recovery despite the surgeries. In the meantime, family, friends, and fans can appreciate the fact that the beloved player was a survivor — not one of the murder victims he wrote about.
Information will continue to come out. The story, however, is a reminder of how quickly things can change.