Leo Ortiz is the father of former baseball player David Ortiz. The latter was shot on Sunday night after going to a night club in the Dominican Republic. Leo, 65, has spoken publicly about his son’s condition, telling ESPN that he’s expected to make a full recovery.
“Doctors say that David is out of danger, thank God,” he revealed. “What they have told me post-op is that the doctors believe he will recover quickly.” Read on to learn more about Leo Ortiz and his relationship with his superstar son.
1. He Played Semi-Pro & Pro Baseball In the Dominican Republic
Leo was born Americo Enrique Ortiz. He played professional and semi-professional baseball in the Dominican Republic, where Jock Bio describes him as having a decent bat and standout defensive skills. David never got to see his dad on the field, however. When he was born in 1975, Leo gave up his dreams of being a ball player so that he could get a job and support his family.
That said, he encouraged his son David to pursue baseball from an early age. David was eventually drafted by the Seattle Mariners in 1992, when he was 17 years old. In a 2004 interview with the Baltimore Sun, Leo talked about his son’s success and how he blossomed into a great player.
“I know he plays relaxed, I know David’s style of baseball. If he feels relaxed, I feel relaxed,” he explained. “David does not fear any pitcher. I knew if someone was going to get a hit, it was going to be David.”
2. His Wife Angela Rosa Arias Died In a Car Accident In 2002
Leo Ortiz’s wife Angela Rosa Arias was killed in a car accident on New Year’s Day 2002. She was 47. “You can never heal a wound like that,” he told the Boston Globe. “David and his mother were very close. Sometimes, when he talks about her, I can tell he is sad. But his success helps in other ways, because one of their objectives was for him to be a baseball player.
Prior to Angela’s death, she worked as a secretary for the Dominican Republic’s Department of Agriculture. She moved into a plush apartment in an affluent neighborhood in Santo Domingo after their son became a star with the Boston Red Sox. David had the apartment custom designed with marble floors, rich wood trim, and chandeliers that were specifically picked out for the Ortiz matriarch. Sadly, she died before it was finished. Leo said that the central image in the apartment is a painting of David looking upward at his mother.
David thanked his mom during his farewell speech at Fenway Park in 2016. “This day’s so special,” he told the crowd. “First of all, I want to thank God for blessing me with my ability and [blessing] me with the beautiful family that I have. I want to thank my mom,” he added, before pausing to wipe tears from his eyes. “I want to thank you, Mom. Wherever you’re at, I love you so much, and I miss you.”
3. He Has 2 Other Children Including a Daughter from Another Relationship
Leo Ortiz and Angela Rosa Arias split when David was a teenager. According to the book World Series Champion, David and his sister Albania lived with their mother during this time, while Leo went off and remarried. He had a third child, a daughter named Yacili, who is David’s half-sister.
Leo told the Boston Globe that he lives with his daughter Albania and granddaughter, and that they would always gather around the 62-inch television in their wood-paneled den when David was up to bat. He also said that he’s touched by the way that Boston natives have taken to his son as a sports legend. “I really appreciate how the fans in Boston treat my son,” he said. “It makes me feel real good.”
Albania told the Baltimore Sun that her brother’s fame affects the entire family, particularly her niece Yessica. “Boys greeted her with shouts of ‘We’re winning,’ and ‘Your father is the best,’ ” she revealed. “I picked her up from school and kids were saying to her, ‘Your father is the best.’ ”
4. He Owns a Gas Station & 2 Auto Stores In the Dominican Republic
Despite his son’s global fame, Leo continues to live in his native Dominican Republic. According to the Boston Globe, he owns a gas station, two auto parts stores, and regularly talks about new business investments with his old friends.
“The way some people react to us has changed, but we haven’t changed,” he explained. “Some people reach a certain level of success and they change. But we still have the same friends. We still treat people the same way.”
5. He Has Assured Fans That His Son Will Recover & ‘Be Around for a Long Time’
Leo has kept his son’s fans updated on his condition since the shooting on Sunday night. He first talked with ESPN over the phone, where he said that he was unsure of what happened. “They called to tell me that David is injured and that they took him to a medical center, but they did not tell me how he is or exactly where he was transferred,” he admitted. “At the moment, everything is confusing. I’m trying to find out where they took my son.”
According to David’s media assistant Leo Lopez, he underwent a surgery that lasted six hours and led to the removal of his intestines and colon, as well as his gallbladder. The former Red Sox slugger also suffered liver damage.
Hours later, Leo gave an interview in Spanish where he said that his son was in stable condition. “Doctors say that David is out of danger, thank God,” he added. “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.”