“The truth is I’m still very nervous, but thanks to God everything turned out well,” Ramos said, shortly after his 3 a.m. arrival at his mother’s house, where a joyous crowd of well-wishers had gathered after receiving news of his release.
“Thank God, I’m alive and here at home,” Ramos, 24, told the crowd, which had waited five hours for his arrival. “I thank you for everything. I don’t have words to express all that I feel, and how thankful I am for all your help. Thank you, for real. I really love you.”
He told state television the final moments of his captivity had been hair-raising as police and the kidnappers exchanged heavy fire in the remote mountainous area where he was being held.
News of his release touched off impromptu celebrations at ballfields across Venezuela and tears and screams of joy by friends and family gathered at his home.
“Thank you and thank everyone, thanks to God, thanks to God, thanks to the whole country,” said Maria Campos, Ramos’s mother. “I just heard everyone yell.”
Ramos was found in the town of Montalban in the state of Carabobo in central Venezuela, said Andres Izarra, the government’s communications minister. The area is roughly 40 miles northwest of Ramos’s family’s home in Valencia, where four men abducted him Wednesday evening, dragging him into a vehicle at gunpoint.
Detroit Tigers star slugger Miguel Cabrera, a Venezuelan native, called Ramos’s home at roughly 9:50 p.m. Friday and spoke with Ramos’s sister, Milangela Ramos. Cabrera told a disbelieving Milangela to call Venezuelan Interior Minister Tareck El Aissami. When she did, El Aissami told her: “I have good news. Your brother has been released.”
Details about how Ramos was freed were sketchy, as were the reasons for his abduction. Venezuelan authorities have taken three detainees in connection with Ramos’s abduction, El Aissami told reporters.
Washington Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo said he had spoken with Ramos by phone and that he was unharmed.
“I join Wilson in thanking the many law enforcement officials in Venezuela and investigators with Major League Baseball who worked tirelessly to ensure a positive ending to what has been a frightening ordeal,” Rizzo said in a statement. “The entire Washington Nationals family is thankful that Wilson Ramos is coming home.”
The rescue of Ramos ended more than two days of praying and waiting by the family for any word from the gunmen who had abducted the 24-year-old catcher. Ramos just completed his first full season with the Nationals.
“They got him,” Gustavo Mercano, Ramos’s agent, said in a phone conversation from Ramos’s house shortly after receiving news of his freedom. “He’s safe. It’s a special moment for his family. We’re all happy. We’re grateful.”
In the background, Ramos’s family could be heard chanting, “Wil-son! Wil-son!”