Former slugger David Ortiz arrived in Boston on a Red Sox team plane and was taken to a hospital on Monday, a day after he was shot in the back while at a Dominican Republic nightclub.
The Red Sox legend was transported from Boston’s Logan Airport to Massachusetts General Hospital by ambulance with a police escort.
Ortiz had been listed in stable condition in the intensive care unit of a Dominican Republic hospital earlier Monday following surgery for gunshot wounds.
ESPN’s Enrique Rojas tweeted Monday afternoon that Dr. Abel Gonzalez, who performed the surgery in the Dominican Republic, had said Ortiz was in stable enough condition to travel.
Images showed Ortiz being taken from the team plane and loaded onto an ambulance, which received a police escort as it made its way toward Massachusetts General Hospital.
Earlier on Monday, the first photograph emerged showing ‘Big Papi’ lying in a Dominican hospital bed after he was shot on Sunday evening.
The photograph, which was posted on Instagram, shows Ortiz connected to a machine while he lies sedated in a bed with a white blanket placed on top of him.
Boston Red Sox executives said they sent a team plane to the Dominican Republic to retrieve Ortiz and fly him back to Massachusetts.
Sam Kennedy, Red Sox president and CEO, said on Monday that Ortiz will be admitted to Massachusetts General Hospital in the West End section of Boston.
‘I love David Ortiz,’ Kennedy told reporters in Boston.
‘We all love David Ortiz. Telling my kids last night what happened was really difficult.
‘It’s hard to express what David Ortiz means to the Boston Red Sox.’
He said that the Red Sox would assist the Ortiz family with whatever they needed.
‘We all remember that in 2013 when we needed David Ortiz the most, he was there for us in late April,’ Kennedy said.
‘And so it’s appropriate and expected that this community would rally around David when he needs us the most.’
Ortiz is credited with helping the city of Boston recover from the Boston Marathon bombing in April 2013.
‘He’s on the Mount Rushmore of Boston sports,’ said Eddie Romero, the team’s assistant general manager.
‘He is a superhero without a cape,’ Red Sox manager Alex Cora told reporters on Monday.
‘That’s the way we see him.’
‘I always said that he’s bigger than life, David,’ the manager said.
‘He’ll give you a hug, a big smile, he does it with everybody. He does it with my daughter and my kids.
‘So it’s been a tough one.
‘I just hope when he gets here everything is fine and we can see the big man again with us filling a room with joy.’
Cora was teammates with Ortiz during their years on the Red Sox.
Another former teammate, retired catcher Jason Varitek, also spoke out in support of Ortiz.
‘I didn’t sleep very well last night,’ Varitek told the Boston Herald.
‘I don’t think anybody did. We spent a lot of time trying to figure out what was going on.
‘Still don’t know that much but everybody has seen and heard.’
Television cameras showed Ortiz, 43, being transported from Clinica Abel Gonzalez in Santo Domingo to the airport via ambulance.
Before the team’s game against the Texas Rangers at Fenway Park on Monday, the players and fans in attendance observed a moment of silence in honor of Ortiz.
The @RedSox hold a moment of reflection for Big Papi. ❤ pic.twitter.com/hjqZDkdB8f
‘All of us were shocked by last night’s news about David Ortiz,’ the public address announcer at Fenway Park said.
‘Our community has felt a palpable concern ever since.
‘As befits his outsized personality, wishes for a speedy recovery have poured in from all over baseball, from the world of sports, and even from respected world leaders.
‘He is loved throughout our nation and beyond, yet, to us, he is our own adopted son.
‘Won’t you please join us as we offer a moment of reflection, thought, and prayer for a complete healing and a full recovery for our beloved Big Papi.’
On Twitter, former President Barack Obama posted a photo showing him, Ortiz, and the rest of the Red Sox during their visit to the White House celebrating their World Series championship.
Obama tweeted: ‘Six years ago, David Ortiz’s spirit and resolve helped us all begin to heal from the Boston Marathon bombing.
‘Today, I want to join many others in wishing him a speedy recovery of his own.
‘Get well soon, Papi.’
Boston Mayor Marty Walsh tweeted: ‘Boston is thinking of you, @davidortiz, and wishing you a full and quick recovery. Get well soon.’
New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady tweeted a picture of him greeting Ortiz. The caption read: ‘Papi defines Boston Strong…get well soon my friend!!!’
The Boston Bruins tweeted a photo of Ortiz with Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara. The caption read: ‘Boston loves Bib Papi. Wishing you all the best in your recovery, @davidortiz.’
The Boston Celtics tweeted a photo showing its star forward, Al Horford, sharing a laugh with Ortiz. The caption read: ‘Few people can influence a city like you have. Wishing you a speedy recovery, #34.’
The New England Patriots tweeted a photo of Ortiz wearing a No. 12 Tom Brady jersey. ‘Big Papi means the world to this city,’ the Patriots tweeted. ‘Wishing you a speedy recovery, @davidortiz.’
Ron Gronkowski, the star Patriots tight end who retired at the end of last season, tweeted: ‘Thinking of you @davidortiz you’re a legend, friend, and represent strength like no other! Get well soon, New England loves you’
Major League Baseball tweeted: ‘Our thoughts are with David Ortiz, who is reportedly hospitalized after being shot in his hometown of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic’
Police in the Dominican Republic believe Ortiz was shot by two cops hired by a Dominican Republic drug lord who believed the baseball player was having an affair with his wife, DailyMail.com has learned.
Three law enforcement sources confirmed the motive on Monday as Ortiz, 43, recovered in the hospital.
The drug lord has not been named.
On Monday, Ortiz’s representative Leo Lopez denied that the shooting had anything to do with a woman but said it was the act of ‘hired’ killers.
‘There is no doubt that it was an act of hired killers.
‘If we had known that there was a dangerous situation, he would not have been there at that moment,’ Leo Lopez told Diario Libre.
Ortiz is expected to make a full recovery but suffered liver damage during the six-hour operation, his spokesman said.
He has been cleared for travel and will fly back to Boston on a plane provided by his old team on Monday once it is ready.
‘The level of stability that Big Papi is showing at this moment makes it possible for him to travel immediately,’ one of the doctors involved in his care told ESPN.
The former slugger for the Red Sox was shot in the back at near point-blank range while having drinks with friends including local TV host Jhoel Lopez.
Police have arrested Eddy Feliz Garcia so far but their investigation is ongoing. Garcia was chased down at the bar by a crowd of Ortiz’s supporters and was beaten relentlessly until police arrived.
He was driving the motorcycle but is not the man who pulled the trigger. The shooter, who has not yet been named, is also in custody.
In a video widely shared on social media afterwards, Garcia is filmed claiming not to know anything about the attack.
In Spanish, the crowd yells at him: ‘You don’t know anything? You don’t know anything?’
Ortiz, who retired from baseball in 2016, is from the Dominican Republic and splits his time between the city of Santo Domingo, where the attack happened, and Miami where he lives with his wife and children.
He is well known in Santo Domingo and is known to frequent the bars and restaurants where the attack happened.
Before he was shot, he and Lopez were seen with other men drinking and smoking cigars.
He was sitting at a table with Lopez when the gunman approached him on the back of a motorcycle and shot him in the back.
The crowd seized on Garcia as Ortiz was taken to the hospital.
Initial reports suggested that it was an attempted robbery but police have since dismissed that.
‘So far the case is under investigation. Social media networks are speculating many things.
‘We can not give you more details,’ Lieutenant Pimentel of the National Police in Santo Domingo told DailyMail.com on Monday.
Ortiz was rushed into surgery at the Abel Gonzolez Clinic. Before he was operated on, he told doctors: ‘Please don’t let me die, I’m a good man.’
His father said on Monday that he was doing well after the operation.
‘Doctors say that David is out of danger, thank God. What they have told me post-op is that the doctors believe he will recover quickly.
‘Big Papi will be around for a long time,’ Leo Ortiz told ESPN.
Lopez told Diario Libre via a WhatsApp message: ‘I am well. I am recuperating.’
The Red Sox have offered to send a private plane to return Ortiz to medical facilities in the U.S. if needed.
Ortiz previously told of his fears of being hurt in his home country.
Before a 2015 ballgame at Fenway Park, he told a Dominican journalist that he violence in his native country was out of control and that he didn’t feel comfortable carrying a firearm to protect himself in public.
‘This is getting out of hand. I think they need to deal strongly because I like going to my country and I know the people love you and take care of you.
‘But you know that when those dudes are out to get theirs, they are not thinking right and they could care less who is who.
‘And I don’t want to carry an AK-47 inside my car over there. I don’t want to walk around everywhere with a bunch of guns. I am not a gun carrier.
‘I am not a guy looking for trouble. But that’s what the (present) moment is demanding you to do,’ he said.
The shooting sparked an outpouring of support from both former teammates and former opponents.
‘I’m at peace knowing you out of danger; you a strong man Compai, can’t wait to hear your voice.
‘My thoughts and prayers are with you, see you soon,’ tweeted Pedro Martinez, a former Red Sox pitcher from the Dominican Republic who was an inspiration for Ortiz on his path to MLB.
‘Anxiously waiting for more news. In the meantime, only prayers for @davidortiz, Tiffany and their family,’ tweeted Alex Rodriguez, former slugger for the arch-rival New York Yankees.
Ortiz is married to Tiffany Ortiz and he has three children.
‘Thoughts and prayers going out to @davidortiz,’ wrote current Angels star Mike Trout.
Ortiz is beloved in the Dominican Republic, where he is well-known for his charity work with children.
In 2007, Ortiz founded the David Ortiz Children’s Fund to help children with cardiac disorders in both the Dominican Republic and New England.
Ortiz ended his 20-year big league career in 2016, when he earned the last of his 10 All-Star appearances.
The former designated hitter and first baseman won seven Silver Slugger awards in his career, and he hit 541 home runs with 1,768 RBIs in 2,408 games in the majors.
He ranks 17th in major league history ion career home runs.
Ortiz began his major league career by playing six seasons for the Minnesota Twins (1997-2002), but his career blossomed after he joined the Red Sox.
His postseason heroics helped Boston capture its first World Series title in 86 years in 2004, when he was the Most Valuable Player of the American League Championship Series as the Red Sox overcame a 3-0 series deficit to the New York Yankees in seven games.
He also helped the Red Sox win championships in 2007 and 2013, capturing World Series MVP honors in the latter season.