Shohei Ohtani “Simply Grateful” for MLB All-Star Game Experience
Posted On July 14, 2021
DENVER – He was not elected MVP, that honor went to Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
He didn’t get a hit, or even take the ball out of the infield in two home plate appearances.
He pitched a 1-2-3 inning, but didn’t strike anyone at bat.
It didn’t make a difference.
The All-Star Game, won by the American League for the eighth consecutive year, 5-2, still belonged to Shohei Ohtani of the Los Angeles Angels.
Ohtani, the winning pitcher with his lone inning of work, was the one to receive the loudest standing ovations throughout Tuesday night in front of a sold-out crowd of 49,184 at Coors Field.
“I was just grateful,” Ohtani says, “for all the encouragement and support I received.”
He was the one who drew all the oh-ahs with his back-to-back 100mph fastballs against Nolan Arenado, the fastest pitch on record since his first start of the season, in his first set 1-2-3.
“I was only throwing one round,” Ohtani said.
He even received wild acclaim for his two eliminations, one that was hit right in the shift.
“I always hit them straight on the shift,” Ohtani said with a laugh.
Ohtani, who arrived in town on Sunday night, leaves Denver completely exhausted, but couldn’t help but smile during his 72-hour binge.
“Definitely, it was a lot more tiring compared to the regular season,” says Ohtani, “but I had fun.
Let’s see, he hit six home runs over 500 feet in the Home Run Derby on Monday night, causing Juan Soto to double overtime, before going out in the first round.
He beat second baseman Adam Frazier in the first set.
He went to the mound and struck out the three hitters he faced, throwing six of 14 pitches at 97 mph or faster.
He beat first baseman Freddie Freeman in the third inning.
And he spent the fourth inning standing in front of the American League clubhouse, surrounded by more than 100 reporters, recounting that he had spent the absolute moment of his life.
“I think so far [in my career], ” Ohtani said, “It has been the best, most memorable experience.”
He was nervous, but immediately felt accepted to step into the American League All-Star clubhouse, flanked by his heroes he saw growing up in Japan, including Hall of Famer Ken Griffey Jr.
“Before I spoke to them,” Ohtani said, “they were pretty intimidating. But once I spoke back then everyone was great. I had a great time meeting everyone. ”
They were delighted to meet Ohtani.
“We were all asking for his autograph,” Minnesota Twins star DH Nelson Cruz said. “I myself received two autographs.”
The Hall of Fame Baseball Museum did even better.
They received his All-Star match cleats, hand guard and foot guard.
The All-Stars have spent the entire weekend marveling at Ohtani, unable to understand how he leads the major leagues with 33 homers and a 0.698 stroke percentage, striking out 11.69 batters per nine innings as a pitcher. .
Yankees star pitcher Gerrit Cole says, “It’s so wonderful to watch. It shows that anything is possible. ”
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If anyone saw this coming, it was Daike Obara, who has known Ohtani since she was eight years old. They grew up together, played baseball together, and were on the same baseball team at Hanamaki Higashi High School in Iwate, Japan.
Obara even has a video on his cell phone showing Ohtani hitting a massive home run at the age of 11, remembering the game where Ohtani once hit four home runs on him.
Now he knows the most popular man in all of Japan, wondering how he could even walk the streets of Japan this winter without being swarmed by fans.
“It’s going to be crazy,” Obara told USA TODAY Sports. “There is no one bigger in Japan. Every morning in Japan the day begins with Shohei. Their game ends the moment we wake up, so everyone turns on the TV and the internet to see how Shohei did. And then everyone spends the day talking about him. ”
And, oh, how they’ll have someone to talk to on Wednesday morning knowing that Ohtani made history by becoming the first player to start a game as a pitcher and positional player.
You have to be extra special for MLB to change the rules just for him, allowing Ohtani to stay in the game as a DH even after leaving the game as a pitcher after the first inning.
“It was the biggest game in Japan since the ’64 Tokyo Olympics,” Obara said. “It means so much to everyone at home.”
It only adds to the legend, Obara says, even passing that moment in their high school dormitory when Ohtani woke up late. He rushed outside, but at 6’4 ” his head hit the lower frame of the door.
Ohtani was doing very well and continued to run.
The door frame was completely cracked.
“The crack in that door frame is still there,” Obara says. “It’s almost a historic monument now. “
The legend has only just begun.
“He creates the wave, doesn’t he?” Cole said. “He’s in front of the wake. I’m a day dreamer. People who admire Shohei, and see how he’s been able to do it and exceed expectations, prove that anything is possible. ”