Baseball player David Ortiz is back in Boston a day after he was ambushed by a gunman at a bar in his native Dominican Republic.
A plane carrying the 43-year-old retired Boston Red Sox star, affectionately known as “Big Papi” landed after a flight from the Dominican.
Ortiz had been in a stable condition in intensive care at a Santo Domingo hospital after doctors removed his gallbladder and part of his intestine, according to his spokesman, Leo Lopez.
He said Ortiz’s liver was also damaged in the shooting on Sunday night.
Ortiz is one of the most beloved figures in sports history in the Dominican Republic and Boston. He led the Red Sox to three World Series championships, was a 10-time All-Star and hit 541 home runs.
Dozens of fans crowded around the hospital, causing a traffic jam. In the US, fans prayed for his recovery and wished him well, with New England Patriots star Julian Edelman assuring him on Instagram: “Papi, all of New England has your back.”
The Red Sox offered “all available resources” and sent an air ambulance to bring him back to Boston.
“He’s on the Mount Rushmore of Boston sports,” said Eddie Romero, the team’s assistant general manager.
The club asked fans to observe a moment of reflection shortly before playing the Texas Rangers at Fenway Park and posted on the videoboard: “We send our love to David Ortiz.”
Ortiz was at the Dial Bar and Lounge in Santo Domingo on Sunday night when a gunman approached from behind and shot him at close range in the torso.
The gunman was not immediately identified or arrested and the motive for the shooting was under investigation, with authorities trying to determine whether Ortiz was the target.
The operator of the motorcycle that was carrying the gunman was captured and beaten by a crowd of people at the bar.
Ortiz’s father, Leo, said he had no idea why someone would have shot at his son.
“He is resting,” the elder Ortiz said. “Big Papi will be around for a long time.”
Two other people were wounded, including Jhoel Lopez, a Dominican TV host who was with Ortiz. Police believe Lopez was wounded by the same bullet, said National Police Director Ney Aldrin Bautista Almonte. Lopez was shot in the leg, and his injuries were not life-threatening, said his wife, Liza Blanco, who is also a TV host.
Police did not identify the third person or detail that person’s injuries.