Sports Spectrum Magazine Summer 2021

New York Mets catcher Wilson Ramos reveals remarkable story of faith behind tattoo

Philippians 4:13 — “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (NKJV) — is a popular Bible verse in general, and especially amongst athletes. So New York Mets catcher Wilson Ramos having it tattooed on his forearm doesn’t seem that remarkable — until he tells the story behind it.

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In 2011, Ramos was at his childhood home in Valencia, Venezuela, following a successful rookie year in the major leagues with the Washington Nationals. Ramos was with his father and brothers on the porch of his family’s home when kidnappers grabbed him, threw him in an orange SUV, and drove him for hours into the middle of nowhere. While Ramos’ rookie year stats grabbed most peoples’ attention — he finished fourth in NL Rookie of the Year voting that season — it was his $415,000 salary that caught the attention of his captors. The kidnappers spoke very little to him, but made it clear they were only interested in one thing: money.

Families of Venezuelan players have long been targeted for ransom in the country, but Ramos was the first MLB player to be kidnapped. For 51 hours, Ramos was held in a remote hideout in the middle of the mountains, and as officials attempted to rescue him, a firefight broke out, sending Ramos diving to the floor.

“No one is prepared for an experience like that, to have to think about never going back home, never seeing your family again,” Ramos recently told MLB.com. “It was very traumatic for me … I know of many [kidnapping] cases in my country in which those people never make it back home, never see their families again. That’s why I say I was born again, because God allowed me to come out of all that unharmed and it was another chance at life.”

Following the incident, Ramos found himself experiencing the common aftereffects of a traumatic situation. Loud noises rattled him. He struggled to sleep, and when he did, he had nightmares where the kidnappers return. And yet Ramos still reported to spring training following the incident, this time with the tattoo, freshly inked, declaring “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

Also inked on his arm is “11-11-11” to represent the day he was rescued: Nov. 11, 2011.

“I learned that day to value life more, the day to day. I had a chance to build a life with my wife, to get married, to have my kids,” Ramos says. “That’s really a beautiful way to look at life from another point of view.”

A two-time All-Star, the 31-year-old Ramos is in his first season as the starting catcher for the Mets.

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