The 2019 shooting occurred while the Dominican native and former Boston Red Sox slugger was hanging out with friends at a bar in Santo Domingo. A gunman who alighted from a motorcycle approached the 47-year-old and shot him in the back at point-blank range.
The alleged gunman, Rolfi Ferreyra Cruz, and two other men each received 30-year prison sentences. The Santo Domingo First Collegiate Court also handed down prison sentences ranging from 5 to 20 years to eight other men.
The sentences handed down to the individuals came after they were found guilty of criminal organization, use of illegal firearms, attempted murder, and complicity. But three other individuals also accused of trying to kill the Hall of Famer were acquitted because of insufficient evidence. One of the acquitted defendants was Víctor Hugo Gómez Vásquez, the man accused of masterminding the shooting.
In the wake of the shooting, Ortiz – who is popularly known as Big Papi – hired American private investigators to look into the incident. Their investigations determined a Dominican drug trafficker who was jealous of the former baseball star called the hit.
The outcome of that investigation was, however, different from what Dominican authorities said was the reason behind the shooting. On the night of the incident, one of the individuals Ortiz was with was his cousin, Sixto David Fernandez. Dominican authorities alleged Fernandez was rather the intended target, adding that the hitman mistook Ortiz for him.
Ortiz, who is beloved in his native country, sustained spurious injuries from the shooting. An initial surgery in the Dominican Republic republic resulted in doctors removing his gallbladder and a portion of his intestine, The Associated Press reported. He also went under the knife after he returned to the United States.
Born in Santo Domingo in 1975, Ortiz, who is widely known in his home country, made his professional debut with the Mariners Dominican Summer League club in 1993, according to his bio on the MLB site.
In 1994, he made his professional debut for the Mariners’ Arizona Rookie League club at the age of 17. His exceptional performances for the team got him named team MVP as well as an Arizona Rookie League All-Star in 1995. In his final season with the Mariners in 1996, he was selected to play in the Midwest League All-Star game and was also named the league’s Most Exciting Player, Best Defensive First Baseman and No. 6 prospect.
Ortiz moved to the Minnesota Twins in 1997. After spending 6 seasons with the Twins, he moved to the Boston Red Sox in 2003, playing 14 seasons for them. Ortiz won 3 World Series Championships with the Red Sox and was named the World Series MVP for the 2013 season.
Ortiz, who hit a total of 541 home runs in his career, is also a 10-time American League All-Star. In 2004, he was named the American League Championship Series MVP. After his retirement in 2016, the Boston Red Sox retired his uniform number the following year.
Outside of baseball, Ortiz is also known for his philanthropic endeavors, particularly with his children’s fund which “provides support for children in the Dominican Republic and in New England who cannot afford the critical cardiac services they need.”