On February 6,1895, George Herman Ruth, or, the Babe, as he would come known, was born in Baltimore, Maryland. Babe Ruth was one of the greatest baseball players of all time, winning seven World Series titles. The Babe became renowned for his power at the plate, setting the MLB record for home runs, and for his dominance as a pitcher. Ninety-nine years later, in Ōshū Japan, Shohei Ohtani was born, and just like the Babe before him, Ohtani is redefining what is possible on a baseball field.
Shohei Ohtani was a natural-born athlete. In high school, he swam and played basketball and baseball. It was clear that baseball would be his primary sport when his fastball clocked in at 99 mph at just 18 years old. After graduating, Ohtani had some Major League teams scouting him, but he chose to play in Japan to develop his game as both a pitcher and a fielder.
In his five-year career with the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters, he was a league champion, MVP, and five-time All-star. He was also voted the best pitcher in the league for two seasons. In 2017, he realized his dream of making it to the MLB when he signed with the Los Angeles Angels. At the time of the signing, many MLB scouts believed Ohtani could be a star in the majors.
“I’ve been doing this 26 years, seen as many players as anybody, but I’ve never seen a skill set like this,” a Scouting director told MLB.com in 2017.
In his Rookie season in 2018, he lived up to the hype, earning Rookie of the Year with a .285 batting average along with 22 home runs, 61 RBIs, and a .331 ERA in ten starts. With such a great start to his career, fans and media gave him the nickname Showtime Ohtani.
Ohtani and the Babe
Since 2018, Ohtani has only improved. The three-time All-star had the best year of his career thus far in 2021. That season he won the AL MVP and the Silver Slugger Award. In 2023, Ohtani made history, passing Babe Ruth in all-time strikeouts pitched and becoming the 6th pitcher in baseball history to record two home runs and ten strikeouts in a single game.
The Greatest Day of Baseball
On July 27th, against the Detroit Tigers, Ohtani recorded his most impressive feat yet. In a doubleheader, Ohtani pitched a complete game with eight strikeouts and one hit. In the next game, he hit two home runs. Check out some highlights from the day below.
Before Shohei Ohtani came to the United States, the idea of a pitcher playing the field and hitting for power was relegated to the early days of baseball. With how skilled players are today, it was thought that having a pitcher who can DH and play the Outfield was pretty much impossible. If Ohtani’s story can show us anything, it is impossible until someone does it.