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Washington Nationals: Top 5 Images Of 2011 - 1. Wilson Ramos Returns To Washington, D.C.

November 9, 2011 8:15 pm EST: There wasn't much information at first, but the reports out of Venezuela that night said Washington Nationals' catcher Wilson Ramos had been kidnapped. Kidnapped? The 24-year-old Nats' backstop was reportedly taken away from his family home by four armed assailants. The first reports came from a baseball writer, Rafael Rojas, @rafaelrojasc who writes about the Colorado Rockies for Viva Colorado, a bilingual paper out of Colorado. "#Nationals C Wilson Ramos has been kidnapped at his home in Maracay, Venezuela. Situation developing." That sentence started nearly 50 hours of tension in Venezuela, the Ramos' family home, the offices at 1500 South Capitol St. SE and all over NatsTown.

The confirmation of the news came from the Tigres de Aragua (@OficialTigres) shortly after the original annoucement. "Lamentablemente la noticia del secuestro de Wilson Ramos fué confirmada, presuntamente el mismo ocurrió en su casa en Valencia..."

November 10, 2011: "Unfortunately the reports of Wilson Ramos’ kidnapping are confirmed. Allegedly he was taken from his house in Valencia." The Nationals released an official announcement the morning after the kidnapping occurred, simply stating that they were working with authorities and waiting for information, but they'd been instructed to make no comment.

The next report came from Kathe Vilera (@KatheVilera), a friend of and spokesperson for Ramos' team in Venezuela, the Tigres de Aragua, which read, "Encontraron la camioneta donde secuestraron a Wilson Ramos en Bejuma. Solo eso, no han contactado a la familia y no ha pasado mas nada!" Roughly translated, that report read, "They found the van used to kidnapped Wilson Ramos in Bejuma. Only that, they have not contacted the family and have not gone over anything!" Washington Post writer Adam Kilgore quoted the Venezuelan Minister of Interior Justice discussing the situation in an article entitled, "Still no word from Wilson Ramos’s kidnappers; family friend urges calm":

"Venezuelan Minister of Interior Justice Tareck El Aissami said police found the vehicle used to kidnap Wilson Ramos in Bejuma, a town an hour away from Valencia, where four gunmen abducted Ramos on Wednesday night, according to a report by Venezuelan TV station Globovision."

November 11, 2011: "Another long night waiting. Not a message or call about Wilson. Keep praying," Marfa Mata (@MarfaMata) a friend and spokesperson for the Ramos family wrote on Twitter. The first reports on the second day of the ordeal were of some sort of aerial operations taking place, though there was still no real news.

@RafaelRojasC reported on Twitter that 300 law enforcement officers were working to find Ramos and authorities had discovered a second car used in the abduction. The press release from Venezuelan authorities also mentioned the possibility that, "... more people are involved in the incident, since research indicates that it is a criminal gang."

Later that night, a little over two days after the initial reports of Ramos' kidnapping came out, the words everyone was waiting to hear were finally reported by Rafael Rojas (@RafaelRojasC), "Internal Affairs Minister called Ramos family and told them they got him - Per Marfa Mata."

"The news from Venezuela tonight is reassuring," D.C. GM Mike Rizzo said in a statement released by the team, "Though details are limited and we have not yet talked directly with Wilson, we are thrilled with reports that he has been rescued and is being safely returned to his family. We greatly appreciate all the prayers and thoughts of all who have joined us in wishing for this conclusion to what has been a nightmarish 48 hours. We are eager to see Wilson and let him know just how many all over the world have been waiting for this news."

Ramos traveled to Washington, D.C. a week later and spoke briefly, telling reporters simply, "I just want to say thanks to the fans for your support and prayers. I'm happy to be here. See you in Spring Training." 12 days after he was kidnapped from the front of his home, Wilson Ramos made his 2011 debut for the Tigres de Aragua.

In 24 games and 85 at bats, the Nats' 24-year-old catcher has a .224/.275/.282 line with two doubles and a HR. A year ago in the VWL, Ramos had a .322/.390/.567 slash with 17 doubles and nine HR's in 47 games and 180 AB's. In his first full season in the majors in 2011, Ramos had a .267/.334/.445 line with 22 doubles and 15 HR's in 113 games and 435 plate appearances as he claimed the no.1 catcher's role in the nation's capital. The conversation all winter should have been about his successful rookie campaign. His kidnapping made Ramos a familiar name for anyone who hadn't heard about the Nats' backstop before that night. Hopefully, the young catcher can put it all behind him and get back to establishing himself as one of the best young players in the game.

• The Other Top Images of 2011:

2. Stephen Strasburg Returns To Action With Hagerstown Suns.

3. Drew Storen And Pudge Rodriguez In Nats Park.

4. Tom Milone's 3-Run HR In His 1st MLB AB.

5. Bryce Harper's First Spring Training.

• We did our Top 5 Stories of the Year in October. Bad planning? Kinda. Anyway. Here they are:

Top 5 Stories Of 2011 - 5. Jim Riggleman Resigns.

Top 5 Stories Of 2011 - 4. Draft Pick Signing Day, Matt Purke Signs.

Top 5 Stories Of 2011 - 3. Stephen Strasburg Returns.

Top 5 Stories Of 2011 - 2. Jayson Werth Changes Culture.

Top 5 Stories Of 2011: 1. Winning With Youth.