November 09, 2011
Stunning and frightening news has come from Venezuela on Wednesday, where reports say Washington Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos(notes) was kidnapped from his mother's home by four armed men. The Nationals have not commented yet, but the news was confirmed on Twitter by his winter-league team, The Tigres de Aragua. Bizarrely, its Twitter feed now contains updates of the Tigres game being played Wednesday.
Reporter Mark Zuckerman of CSN Washington has been following the reports:
According to the Venezuelan newspaper El Nacional, four gunmen approached Ramos near his home in Santa Ines and took him away. Family members have informed police but have not yet heard from the kidnappers.
Ramos had not yet played this winter after appearing in 113 games with the Nationals, but he was planning to appear in some games and was spending the offseason in Venezuela, where ballplayers have been victims of kidnapping before.
Ramos has expressed concern recently about fans in the stands in Venezuela who get drunk and abusive:
"The fans in the stands, there are a lot of good ones. A lot of them understand that it's a sport," Ramos said. "But during the game when they drink and they get drunk they forget everything -- they boo you if you're not hitting, or make errors. Everybody wants to kill you."
For what it's worth, Ramos made $415,000 in 2011, his first full season in the majors. He turned 24 years old in August.
Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus has some thoughts on this, including this note: Venezuela has the highest kidnapping rate in the world.
Yahoo! Sports' own Jeff Passan reported this summer about the threat of violence in the home countries of Caribbean players in the major leagues. In 2008, a brother of Henry Blanco(notes), Carlos Blanco, was kidnapped and killed — even as Blanco was trying to arrange for his release. In '09, a son of Yorvit Torrealba(notes) was kidnapped and returned unharmed.
Then there's the saga of Ugueth Urbina. In the 1990s, his father was killed fending off a robbery. In 2004, his mother was kidnapped by drug lords who extorted money. In a tragic and bizarre turn, Urbina ended up in prison a year later for attempted murder in a case that was unrelated to his mother's kidnapping. (An earlier version of this story said Urbina's rampage was revenge. That was not the case.)
For you Spanish speakers, here are some resources from Venezuela to keep up with the latest:
• El Siglo
Other popular stories on Yahoo! Sports:
• Dan Wetzel: Process of healing begins for Penn State
• There's no quit in veteran Juan Manuel Marquez
• NFL rankings: Charles Woodson talks openly about Packers at 19-0