Two-way Los Angeles Angels star Shohei Ohtani is the latest big name to join the Fanatics list, the sports memorabilia company said on Wednesday.
Ohtani has a deal with the company that makes it the exclusive distributor of Ohtani memorabilia, including autographs, collectibles, signed baseballs, bats, gaming merchandise and other goods.
Ohtani’s popularity exploded this year as the 27-year-old excelled as the first true two-way player since the Black League and Babe Ruth days in MLB.
The MLB star’s tie-up with the Fanatics has been in the works for a long time.
“We are looking for exclusive athletes who add a lot of value to our fan base and our customer base,” said Masanori Kawana, company general manager for East Asia. “We have been studying the opportunity to sign with Ohtani for some time.
“Over the past few months we have been delighted to finalize this. With his performance on the pitch, we are so excited. We were looking for special athletes like him. “
Ohtani turned heads on the mound and on the set with the Angels in 2018, and was named AL Rookie of the Year that season. The Oshu, Iwate Prefecture native has become a superstar with his game this season.
Ohtani leads the MLB with 34 homers and also hits .274 with 74 RBIs and 12 stolen goals as a batter. Ohtani the pitcher is 4-1 with a 3.21 ERA and 95 strikeouts in 73 innings. He threw six scoreless frames in his last start, against the Oakland Athletics on Monday.
Ohtani recently became the first player to make the MLB All-Star game as a hitter and pitcher, and also competed in the home run derby.
“Since we started selling Ohtani products last week related to the All-Star Game, he quickly became the best-selling player in MLB,” Kawana said.
Ohtani Memories are already selling for 10 times more than those of the Next Highest Player.
Kawana said that Ohtani’s popularity is second to none in Japan and that Fanatics is working to make more of its genuine products available in Japan through the deal.
“We still haven’t got the right channel in place locally, which we will actually be putting in place over the next couple of months,” Kawana said. “We are going to have our own channel to distribute Ohtani products. I’m sure there is going to be a lot of demand for his merchandise. “
According to the Fanatics release, Ohtani joins a long list of top athletes who have signed with the company, including NFL great Tom Brady and MLB stars like Mookie Betts and Aaron Judge, among others.
“It is an honor to join Fanatics as the last exclusive athlete,” Ohtani said in a statement released by the company. “Their global presence and reach in the United States and Japan will help fans around the world gain access to incredible products. “
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