Baseball superstar Ohtani announces marriage

Baseball superstar Ohtani announces marriage

Intensely private player reveals nothing about partner other than to say she is Japanese

Shohei Ohtani (right) and Los Angeles Dodgers teammate Yoshinobu Yamamoto are seen in the dugout during a spring training game against the Chicago White Sox in Glendale, Arizona, on Feb 27. (Kyodo Photo)
Shohei Ohtani (right) and Los Angeles Dodgers teammate Yoshinobu Yamamoto are seen in the dugout during a spring training game against the Chicago White Sox in Glendale, Arizona, on Feb 27. (Kyodo Photo)

Shohei Ohtani, the dual-threat Major League Baseball megastar and a national hero in Japan, has announced his marriage to a Japanese woman he did not identify.

Ohtani, who has always fiercely guarded his privacy, made the announcement in a terse Instagram post shortly before midnight in Pacific Standard Time on Wednesday. No other details about his spouse were given in the post, which said he would address the press on Friday.

The 29-year-old won his second Most Valuable Player award last year after leading the American League with 44 home runs and notching 10 wins as a pitcher.

In December he signed a 10-year, $700-million contract — the richest in worldwide team sports history — with the Los Angeles Dodgers of the National League after six years with the LA Angels.

Unlike most players who specialise in batting or pitching, Ohtani is equally skilled at both disciplines, drawing comparisons with American baseball legend Babe Ruth.

He has been given the nickname “Shotime” and has been described as among the world’s best players.

“To all my friends and fans throughout, I have an announcement to make: Not only have I begun a new chapter in my career with the Dodgers, but I also have begun a new life with someone from my native country of Japan who is very special to me and I wanted everyone to know I am now married,” the post in English read.

“Two people (plus one dog), we’ll grow together,” he told his seven million Instagram followers.

“I am excited for what is (to) come and thank you for your support.”

Fans in Japan extended their congratulations to the homegrown hero.

“I think anybody would be good (for him)! I think it’s a good thing because he’s probably happy,” Tomomi Sakai, a nurse in her 50s, told Reuters.

Taro Nakao, a 19-year-old university student said; “I think if he’s happy in his personal life then he might play better in games as well.”

“I am curious who she might be, but I’m sure she’s a good person if Ohtani has chosen her. I hope they’ll be very happy,” said Hinako Kon, 30, in Sapporo. She said she watched Ohtani many times when he played for the Pacific League’s Hokkaido-based Nippon Ham Fighters from 2013 to 2017.

Despite being one of the most famous people in Japan, Ohtani is famously reserved. He high-fived a small dog in a November video announcement of his MVP win, but it was not until a press conference in Dodger Stadium the following month that the world learned the dog’s name.

A picture of the dog, known as Dekopin, appeared at the bottom of Ohtani’s marriage notice on Instagram. 

In Ohtani’s home prefecture of Iwate in Japan’s northeast, the local Iwate Nippon newspaper published 11,000 copies of an extra edition heralding his marriage.

“I’m surprised. I thought he was already married to baseball,” laughed 59-year-old Keiji Kawamorita as he received a copy outside Morioka Station.

Outside Shimbashi Station in Tokyo, too, baseball aficionados and agnostics alike were pleased by the news.

“I feel like a son has gotten married,” said one 49-year-old woman who works in medicine. She said a friend who is the same age as Ohtani messaged her to say she was “shocked” and wanted to take the day off.

Ohtani has asked for the privacy of both families to be respected. He will speak to the media in Glendale, Arizona, where he is in spring training camp with the Dodgers.

A man reads a copy of an extra edition of the Iwate Nippon daily newspaper announcing Shohei Ohtani’s marriage, in Morioka, the capital of the player’s home prefecture of Iwate, on Thursday. (Kyodo Photo)

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