Japanese, 24, Baseball
Baseball’s two-way talent breaking new ground
Key partners: Asics, Topps
Some baseball players can hit a ball 500 feet; others are able to throw it 100 miles per hour. Shohei Ohtani, extraordinarily, can do both. Just four months into his debut Major League Baseball (MLB) season, comparisons with the late, great Babe Ruth might be a little premature, but this two-pronged talent is tipped by many for the top.
A household name in his native Japan, all 30 MLB clubs pitched for Ohtani’s signature before he eventually sided with the Los Angeles Angels. An instant hit with American fans, Ohtani’s name is selling more jerseys than his big-hitting All-Star teammate Mike Trout, while one punter purchased his signed Topps rookie trading card for US$6,725 back in April.
If Ohtani doesn’t already have enough going for him, baseball’s Olympic return at Tokyo 2020 will have a host of brands clamouring around the hometown hero who grew up cultivating his skills just three hours from the Japanese capital. By that point, Ohtani will have a firm foothold in Asia and North America, and those Games could well provide his springboard to become one of baseball’s few global icons. SC