David Ortiz in stable condition after shooting

By Dionisio Soldevila

SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic – As former Boston Red Sox star David Ortiz arrived in the emergency room with a gunshot wound late Sunday night, the charismatic slugger pleaded with doctors back in his native island.

The slugger whose emphatic words once lifted Boston’s spirits after a terrorist attack feared for his life as he arrived at the Abel Gonzalez Clinic in Santo Domingo.

“Please don’t let me die,” he said, according to a nurse on the scene. “I’m a good man.”

Ortiz was rushed to the hospital minutes after he was shot in the back while partying with friends at a local bar.

The news of the shooting stunned the baseball world, prompting fans, former teammates and opponents to offer their prayers and thoughts through social media.

Ortiz, 43, is more than a local hero in the Dominican Republic. He is also one of the island’s biggest ambassadors and altruistic superstars.

He is beloved back home for more than his exploits on the diamond, where he helped the Red Sox break the Curse of the Bambino in 2004 with the first of his three World Series titles in Boston. He was also Most Valuable Player of the American League Championship Series and World Series.

He also runs the David Ortiz Children’s Fund that has already helped more than 500 children with heart conditions to receive needed surgeries. Moreover, his Sports Foundation, which is named Fundeportes, gives away sports equipment to youth leagues in the Dominican.

He is such a beloved and near mythical figure in the Dominican, the news of his shooting was greeted with disbelief and anger throughout the island.

General Ney Aldrin Bautista, the chief of police, was one of the first to arrive to the clinic. Senator Charlie Mariotti and dozens of reporters also descended at the clinic.

Former major leaguers Neifi Pérez and Cristian Guzmán also rushed to keep vigil at the hospital.

“We are not ready to say what happened, but we are investigating. David is loved by everyone, and we will find out why this happened to him,” Bautista said after talking to Ortiz’s father, Leo.

The alleged shooter was apprehended by people at the bar. He received a severe beating. Police identified him as Eddy Feliz Garcia, a man in his mid ‘20s.

Red Sox representatives also arrived at the clinic. They told Ortiz’s family that they had an airplane available for him if necessary.

Ortiz was in surgery for nearly two hours. It was performed by Dr. Abel Gonzalez IV, who is one of the Dominican Republic’s most prominent surgeons.

“David is OK,” Leo Ortiz said late Sunday. “He is resting, and everything is under control. He took a shot in the back, and the bullet went through his abdomen. No organs were affected, so we expect him to recover soon.”

Leo Ortiz addressed the media after what he described as “the most difficult moments in my life.”

Ortiz, who lives in Miami, has been in his native island for a week promoting a new brand of Big Papi cigars and helping out in his charitable organizations.

He retired in 2016 after hitting 541 home runs over a 20-year career. He was a key figure for the 2004 Red Sox who broke the franchise’s 86-year championship drought, the so-called Curse of the Bambino. He also helped the Red Sox win titles in 2007 and 2013.

He is considered one of the best designated hitters of all time and a potential Hall of Famer. More than that, he has been one of the most charismatic players of his era.

He is widely respected throughout the baseball industry, as was evident after he was shot.

“I’m at peace knowing you out of danger,” Hall of Fame righthander and fellow Dominican superstar Pedro Martínez wrote on Instagram with a picture in which he’s hugging Ortiz. “You a strong man Compai, can’t wait to hear your voice. My thoughts and prayers are with you, see you soon.”

Featured Image: Maddie Meyer / Getty Images Sport

La Vida Baseball contributor Dionisio Soldevila is one of the foremost sports journalists in his native Dominican Republic. He is based in Santo Domingo.