The Philadelphia Phillies were dealt one of baseball’s grandest indignities on Sunday afternoon: Their batters could not manage one base hit all game against the Los Angeles Dodgers’ pitcher Josh Beckett.
But the mind of Phils catcher Carlos Ruiz, who wasn’t scheduled to play Sunday, was a few thousand miles away.
The day before, back home in Panama, where Ruiz returns every winter to his ranch, a fishing boat capsized and tossed its three occupants in the ocean. Two of the men — Walter Dubarran and Jose Mercedes Rodriguez — were Ruiz’s close friends, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
“My brother was knocking on the door real hard,” Ruiz told ThePostGame of how he found out Saturday night. ”I was thinking something bad happened. I opened the door, and he looked at me and asked if I knew what happened in Panama.”
Upon hearing the news about the missing men, Ruiz sprang into action. He directed money toward boats and helicopters that worked with the Panamanian navy in a search-and-rescue operation.
“It was very difficult,” Ruiz told the Inquirer, noting that he even considered flying to Panama on Sunday morning. “I didn’t get a whole lot of sleep…It was kind of hard to keep my concentration. I just left everything to God.”
But soon after his dejected squad made their way into the Phillies clubhouse following their no-hitter humiliation, Ruiz received news that turned the whole day around.
All three men were found alive, having survived their ordeal by hanging onto gas tanks and buoys.
One of the boats that Ruiz financed found his friend Dubarran, who had been in the ocean for 35 to 40 hours, ThePostGame noted. The two spoke on the phone as soon as he reached the shore.
“They thanked me for all I did, for those guys who went out there to try to find them,” Ruiz told the Inquirer. “It was joyful. They all thanked me again for what I did financially.”
After receiving the good news, Ruiz forwarded money to pay for the rescued men’s transfer to a private hospital.
“I focused on any help financially,” the 35-year-old told the Inquirer. “The good Lord was the one who provided everything for me.”
Here’s a clip of Ruiz describing his emotions through one of his coaches who translates: