Ohtani’s Second Straight MVP Award Cranks Out Extra Editions in Japanese Newspapers

AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko
A staff distributes an extra edition of the Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper reporting on Los Angeles Angels’ Shohei Ohtani winning the Major League Baseball’s American League MVP Friday, Nov. 17, 2023, in Tokyo. The headline of the newspaper says in Japanese “Ohtani MVP.”

TOKYO (AP) — Two-way star Shohei Ohtani is not only great for baseball — he’s also a blessing for Japan’s newspaper industry.

Ohtani was named the first two-time unanimous Most Valuable Player when he won the American League honor on Thursday, immediately setting off a scramble around Tokyo’s Shibuya station for extra editions announcing the award.

Ohtani, who has played his entire MLB career with the Los Angeles Angels, is now a free agent with speculation he could land baseball’s first $500 million contract.

“I don’t particularly have a preference of which team I would like him to play for next season,” Ryota Kusaka, a high-school baseball player, said at the station. “But my support for him won’t change no matter which team he goes to.”

Ohtani was shown in a post by Major League Baseball on X, formerly Twitter, at the moment he received word of his MVP award, high-fiving his pet dog amid clapping in the background.

The award was almost a foregone conclusion, but it again stoked pride in local Japanese that one of their own is the best in the world’s top baseball league.

“Given Ohtani’s performance this season, I think it is no surprise that he has won this award,” said Iori Kamikubo, who identified himself only as a baseball fan. “I think he is no longer a human but a god.”

“I think he is a kind of spiritual support for the Japanese people,” added Ayiyoshi Ikeda, a businessman.