David Ortiz shot at Dominican Republic club, in stable condition
Wily Peralta scrolled through his phone late Sunday, a relaxing evening in his home, when an alert caught his attention.
Former Boston Red Sox icon David Ortiz had been shot.
The news sent a ripple through the baseball community, but it hit especially close to home for Peralta.
Peralta, a 30-year-old Royals relief pitcher, grew up in the Dominican Republic, born there 13 years after Ortiz. An aspiring baseball player, Peralta spent his childhood watching Ortiz develop into one of the country’s most prominent figures from afar.
“For me and the other kids that are just coming up, watching him in the big leagues, he’s a role model in the Dominican Republic,” Peralta said. “Everybody loves him.”
Ortiz, 43, was shot Sunday night in an apparent targeted attack while sitting at a bar in the Dominican Republic. The bullet damaged his intestines and liver. He is in stable condition and on Tuesday took his first steps since surgery, his wife said in a statement.
Peralta first crossed paths with the larger-than-life personality a few years ago, making a point to introduce himself as his Milwaukee Brewers were playing the Red Sox. The talk was brief, perhaps a rarity for the extroverted Ortiz, but Peralta said he hasn’t forgotten it.
And in 2017, they met again. Peralta pitched for the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic. A year after retiring from the game, Ortiz hung around the team.
“He’s a great guy, man,” Peralta said. “It’s something you don’t want to happen to anybody. It’s really sad news. Really sad news.”
Royals infielder Kelvin Gutierrez, also born in the Dominican, has never met Ortiz. But he too grew up admiring him. Wanting to be like him. Hoping to play against him. “Oh, my gosh, man,” he said. “I feel bad. My prayers are with him and his family.”
Those connections are not unique, Peralta said. Inside a baseball-devoted country, the kids grow up knowing Ortiz’s story and hoping to emulate it.
But he has a couple of more connections to the Royals that are a bit more unique, a bit less obvious.
Ortiz actually attended the funeral of Yordano Ventura, the former Royals flamethrower killed in a 2017 car crash in the Dominican. According to The Star’s Vahe Gregorian, Ortiz stood outside the door greeting those who arrived and comforted Ventura’s mother.
“He was there — that said a lot,” Royals manager Ned Yost said.
In a moment indicative of his personality, Ortiz spoke to the Fenway Park crowd after the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013. He famously dropped an f-bomb while doing so. The Royals were standing on the baseline, listening to the speech.
And in September 2014, Ortiz said he spoke to Ventura and catcher Salvador Perez about making a final push to get the Royals to the playoffs. “You got make that happen, and you’ll go down in history in this city,” Ortiz said he told them.
“Everybody who knows him loves him because David Ortiz is a great person,” Peralta said. “You never want to hear what happened to him, but hopefully he’s going to be OK.”