Nationals’ catcher Wilson Ramos was lying in a bed in a house in Montalban, Carabobo, Friday night, trying to think, trying to sleep — trying not to wonder how much longer he might live or how his family was doing in the wake of his kidnapping.
That was when he heard the first gunshot.
Ramos jumped to the floor, he told The Washington Times on Saturday morning, roughly 10 hours after the Venezuelan police rescued him from the armed kidnappers who’d abducted him Wednesday evening from his home in Santa Ines.
He stayed on the floor, listening to the gunfire and praying, until the police came in and told him his 50-plus hour nightmare was finally over.
“They picked me up off the floor and they said, ‘Hey, Wilson, thank God, you’re safe. Let’s go home. Your family is waiting for you.’”
Ramos’ voice was excited and strong as he spoke, despite the fact that he’d been living in captivity for more than two full days. He said his kidnappers spoke to him briefly, did not hurt him and offered him food and water. However, he told reporters in Venezuela immediately after he was rescued that “they hey didn’t physically harm me, but psychologically I underwent very great harm.”
The kidnappers told Ramos little more than to cooperate and that they were “going to ask for a ton of cash for me,” he said Friday night. According to his family, they were never issued a demand for ransom and ultimately it is not believed that any was paid. The three kidnappers, whom Ramos told the Associated Press he knew were Colombian because of their accent, were in custody.
Back at home and with his family Saturday morning, Ramos kept repeating one word: “Happy.”
“I want to thank the fans in Washington and everywhere,” he said. “Everybody was talking with God about me so I’m very happy and I want to say ‘Thank you everybody.’ I’m very, very happy. I love the fans in Washington. I want to say thank you to everybody — thank every fan — thank everybody for everything.”
The Nationals were just as happy to have Ramos safe, secure and out of harms way.
“I am happy to announce that I have spoken directly with Wilson and he assures me he is unharmed but eager to be reunited with his family,” Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo said in a statement. “He asked me to thank all who played a role in his rescue and all those who kept him and his family in their thoughts and prayers.
“I join Wilson in thanking the many law enforcement officials in Venezuela and investigators with Major League Baseball who worked tirelessly to ensure a positive ending to what has been a frightening ordeal. The only detail that concerns us is that Wilson is safe. The entire Washington Nationals family is thankful that Wilson Ramos is coming home.”
Late Friday night Detroit Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera, a close friend of Ramos’ from childhood, called his sister Milanyela and told her that Ramos had been rescued. She didn’t believe Cabrera after two long days without any word from the kidnappers and Cabrera told her to call the Venezuelan Interior Minister. She did, he gave her the good news and the celebrations were kicked off across Venezuela, Washington and in many other parts of the world.
“My mom’s happy now,” Ramos said. “My sister, she was (doing) very bad but now she’s very good so, you know, thanks to everyone.”
A few days before he was kidnapped, the 24-year-old Nationals catcher bought his family a new house in a more affluent area of Valencia than where they currently live. They are still planning to move to the new house before Dec. 1, he said, and plans to have security with him from now on.
A few members of the police were stationed out front of his house at this time, he said, and he and his family felt more at ease due to the security.
Ramos also said he still intends to play in the Venezuelan Winter League for the Tigres de Aragua, even if it’s only for a short time, telling the Associated Press “As soon as I feel all right, I’m going to start playing.” He also told Venezuelan reporter Rafael Rojas that he wanted to play, “as a thank you to Venezuela for the support.”
He had been preparing to play for the team after taking a month of vacation following the end of the Nationals’ season. His debut was scheduled for this coming week.