Wilson Ramos was kidnapped at gunpoint from his mother’s home in Venezuela last night.
Wilson Ramos, one of the Washington Nationals’ most promising young baseball players, was kidnapped at gunpoint Wednesday night from his family’s home in Venezuela, leaving the team in a state of shock and raising questions about the safety of playing in a country ravaged in recent years by kidnappings and street crime.
The 24-year-old Ramos, the starting catcher for the Nationals, had returned to his native country for the winter and planned to participate in roughly 10 games for his Venezuelan winter league team, the Aragua Tigers, starting Thursday.
Wednesday evening, four armed men arrived at Ramos’s mother’s house in the Santa Ines sector of the central city of Valencia, and took Ramos away, according to multiple news reports out of Venezuela.
While Ramos is the first major league player to have been kidnapped,
Ramos is believed to be the most high-profile baseball player kidnapped in Venezuela, but the rash of abductions has touched the baseball world there before. In 2008, the brother of Arizona Diamondbacks catcher Henry Blanco was kidnapped and killed, his body found a day after he was taken. In 2009, Texas Rangers catcher Yorvit Torrealba paid a ransom to get his son back, and pitcher Victor Zambrano’s mother was rescued in a raid.
There has been an alarming increase in the number of kidnappings in that country since 2006, when the Venezuelan National Counter Kidnapping Commission was founded. Violent crime is pervasive in Venezuela, where the per capita murder rate ranks it among the top five in the world, according to the U.S. State Department Consular Affairs Bureau.
In 2009, kidnappings increased 40-60 percent from the preview year, the State Department says, a majority of which are not reported to the police.
Venezuela’s minister of the interior stated that the kidnapper’s car was found. The investigation continues.