Shohei Ohtani: Baseball Player


Justina (Yijia) Liu, Staff Writer

Shohei Ohtani also referred to as “Shotime”, is a Japanese professional baseball pitcher, designated hitter, and outfielder who plays for the Los Angeles Angels in Major League Baseball (MLB). Ohtani was born to Kayoko and Toru Otani in Iwate, Japan, on July 5. Ohtani’s mother was a national-level badminton player in high school, and his father works in an automobile manufacturing plant. As an amateur baseball player who played in the Japanese Industrial League, Ohtani’s father coached Ohtani, who displayed an aptitude for baseball at an early age. 

Influenced by his brother Ryuta, who was also an amateur baseball player in the Japanese Industrial League, Ohtani was known as a “野球少年”—a kid who dies for baseball. Starting when he was eight, Ohtani began playing baseball in his second year of elementary school. Ohtani’s blossoming talent was visible from an early age, and as a seventh-grader, Ohtani threw all but one of 18 outs in a six-inning regional championship game. 

Ohtani expressed a great desire to move into the major leagues right after high school, and as a high schooler, he had already received interest from many prestigious teams, including the Texas Rangers, Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees, and Los Angeles Dodgers. Ohtani announced that he would rather join the MLB than be a professional player in Japan on Oct. 12, 2012. However, he was drafted to the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters, even though there was a high likelihood he would not play for them by committing as much since it was not his top choice. 

After negotiating with the Fighters, Ohtani signed with the team and spent years in Japan before joining the MLB. Able to serve as a pitcher and position player, the Los Angeles Dodgers became Ohtani’s top choice. After joining the team, he was assigned jersey number 11, previously worn by Yu Darvish, a Japanese professional baseball pitcher. 

Ohtani, a rare left-handed batter, is known for being able to hit with homerun power. As a baserunner, Ohtani’s sprint speed has allowed him to be a league leader. Ohtani ran from the batter’s box to first base in 3.8 seconds, an incredibly short amount of time. He has recorded the fastest home-to-first average sprint time in the Majors at 4.09 seconds and a career-high 26 stolen bases.

His incredible techniques and skills have also fascinated our school baseball team. 

“He’s a generational player. Able to do the things he does at the highest level is remarkable. It’s comparable to those that have played at the professional level in multiple sports, like Bo Jackson, Deon Sanders, and Brian Jordan.  The training required to be able to pitch and hit at the professional level is intense, which is why he’s the only one doing it.  Most of the players you see playing in MLB were once (youth, high school, and even college) 2-way players (pitchers and hitters), like Ohtani, but once you get to the professional level, it becomes too much to be able to keep both skills sets up.  It’s really fun to watch him because he makes it look so easy and natural.  Most people don’t know the amount of work he puts into being able to do what he does.  I think we can all learn that just because something isn’t the norm, it doesn’t mean it’s not possible. But that doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy either,” said Baseball Team Coach Nicholas Lemas. 

“He is a good pitcher that I watch with my parents. As an immigrant, the fact that he was able to come here means he worked really hard,” said senior student Tess Ige.

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