Shohei Ohtani GQ magazine: What secret did the reigning MVP revealed?

No one in the world of Major League Baseball had any doubt that 2021 was the year of Shohei Ohtani, the Japanese who after three seasons in the Major Leagues was consecrated with the Los Angeles Angels as the unanimous MVP and the Commissioner’s Historic Achievement Award.

Ohtani is for many the perfect athlete for baseball, which is why hall of famer Chipper Jones has defined him as “one of the best baseball bodies I’ve ever seen…. he’s an Adonis.”

Japan is living a phenomenon around Ohtani, they don’t miss a single game of the hitter and pitcher, and the United States is already being part of that passion for the game of the 27-year-old player, who in an interview with GQ made some confessions, such as that in his childhood he was a “Yakyu shonen, a kid who loves baseball.”

The target document his coach asked him for

Gone are his achievements with his first team, Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters, with which he established himself as a star in the Japanese professional baseball league, MVP and future world slugger.

Among the secrets Ohtani revealed is the document his high school coach asked him for many years ago, reflecting his year-by-year goals, which were “at 26, win World Series and get married; at 37, my first son starts playing baseball; at 38, stats go down, time to think about retiring.”

While some of those goals are still pending, Ohtani doesn’t lose sight of his biggest goal, to make it in the United States.

“It’s what I came here for, to be the best player I can,” he said. “And hearing ‘the face of baseball,’ that’s very welcoming to me, and it gives me more motivation to-because I’ve only had, this was my first really good year. And it’s only one year. So it gives me more motivation to keep it up, and have more great years.”

“Baseball was born here, and I personally want baseball to be the most popular sport in the United States. So if I can contribute in any way to help that, I’m more than open to it,” he says. “But if you look at the whole baseball population in the world, it’s a lot less than, like, soccer and basketball, because only select countries are really big on baseball. But in those countries where it’s huge, it’s unbelievably huge.”

The day he met his childhood hero, Ichiro Suzuki

In addition, the Los Angeles Angels player recalled his encounter with his childhood hero, Ichiro Suzuki, during his first MLB season.

“Growing up,” Shohei says, “Ichiro was for me the way that I think some kids, some people, look at me today. Like I’m a different species. Larger than life. He was a superstar in Japan. He had this charisma about him. But once I actually met him, and went to dinner with him, he was much closer to an average guy – which was kind of surprising.”

“But he basically told me: ‘Remember to be yourself. You made it this far being yourself, so don’t change that, stay within yourself.’ And I kind of had to think about that… And so ever since that dinner with Ichiro, it kind of gave me the confidence to just be myself, to keep doing the right things, and to stay confident, to stay the course,” he added.

Although he misses his home country, there are a number of reasons Ohtani prefers to live in the United States, in addition to succeeding in the Major Leagues.

“If I had to choose right now where to live, I might pick the States. Just because it’s a lot more relaxing, laid-back, chill. I can do my own thing and not get bugged. The lifestyle is just… Tokyo, especially, is just a little more hectic and busy, stuff constantly going on. Back here, it’s just nice weather, chill, laid-back.”

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