An initial tweet was verified by Venezuelan website El Nacional (warning: en Espanol) – Washington Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos has been kidnapped in the Venezuelan city of Valencia, his hometown. He was apparently approached by four gunmen, and was taken away. The kidnappers have not contacted the family yet, though the police are aware of the situation.
Violent crime is a serious problem in the country, with Venezuela having one of the highest per capita rates in the world. Back in 2009, Rangers catcher Yorvit Torrealba had his son and two of his son’s uncles kidnapped, with the kidnappers demanding a ransom of $500,000. The child and adults were released two days later. In 2008, Diamondbacks catcher Henry Blanco’s brother Carlos was kidnapped and later killed.
This isn’t a new problem, but this is the first time we can document an actual player being kidnapped in Venezuela, as opposed to a family member. The most famous example of an athlete being kidnapped would be the kidnapping and murder of eleven Israeli Olympic team members during the 1972 Olympics in Munich.
More on this story will follow in the days that follow, and we all hope that Ramos returns safe and sound to his family.