March 19, 2024
Melinda Head

The First Two-Way Star Since Babe Ruth Has Thrown Us a Wild Pitch

Sugoi! (aka awesome, cool, amazing)

Shohei Ohtani (aka Shotime) is no longer a $700 million bachelor. Not only is he an impressive pitcher and hitter, now he’s also made it in love.

American Rookie of the Year in 2018, Ohtani is a baseball ambassador, who has single-handedly bridged the gap between American and Asian baseball. A national hero in Japan, Ohtani won his second Most Valuable Player (MVP) award last year (by unanimous vote) after leading the American League with 44 home runs and 10 wins as a pitcher.

Sadly, #17 will not pitch this year as he recovers from elbow surgery (torn ulnar collateral ligament), with the goal of returning to the mound in 2025.

You won’t see Ohtani pitching in a white and blue uniform until 2025

Neal ElAttrache is Ohtani’s surgeon. Former patients include Kobe Bryant, Tom Brady and Conor McGregor, to name just a few. Ohtani throws right-handed but bats left-handed; as a result, his right elbow is not under the same stress as most players

In December Ohtani moved 32 miles up the road from the Angel Stadium to the Dodger Stadium, lured by a $700 million 10-year contract – a new record in Major League Baseball (MLB) and among the largest in sports history. The frenzied battle for his talent also included interest from the Chicago Cubs, the Toronto Blue Jays, the New York Yankees and the San Francisco Giants.

NezBalelo, a first generation American with Portuguese roots, represents Shohei Ohtani

Interestingly, Ohtani and his agent, Nez Balelo, structured the deal so that the lion’s share of his compensation comes on the back end, allowing the Los Angeles Dodgers the financial flexibility needed to build a competitive team around him. That’s smart thinking. In the meantime, sponsorship will more than adequately cover his expenses.

“There’s no need to defend yourself on this because it is the most incredible act of unselfishness and willingness to win that I’ve ever experienced in my life, or ever will.” (Nez Balelo, Agent, CAA)

Then, with his sports future nailed down quite possibly for the remainder of his career, Ohtani threw a bombshell at his beloved fans:

“Not only have I began a new chapter in my career with the Dodgers, but I have also began 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.” (Shohei Ohtani, LA Dodgers)

“It’s been crazy. I’m telling you, he’s like Elvis. Everyone screams just getting a glimpse of him.” (James Lutman, Outfielder, LA Dodgers)

Mamiko Tanaka is Ohtani’s new wife. But who is she?

Mamiko Tanaka is Shotime’s new wife. In a very modest, typically Japanese way, he described her as “a normal Japanese woman” … without divulging the fact that she was a professional basketball player until 2023

Born in 1996 (2 years younger than Ohtani), she is a former professional Japanese basketball player.

Tanaka played for Waseda and Seitoku universities before turning pro. Although she was WNBA draft eligible, Tanaka chose to play basketball in Japan instead and, in 2019, joined the Kawasaki-based Fujitsu-owned Red Wave team, part the Women’s Japan Basketball League.

Measuring 5’11’ (compared to Ohtani at 6’4”) she played for Red Wave for 4 years before retiring in 2023. According to ESPN, in her last season as Forward, Tanaka had a shooting rate of 47.7% from the field and 69.9% from the free throw line over the course of 28 games, during which she posted 7.8 points and 6.0 rebounds per game, averaging 24 minutes of playing time.

Makimo Tanaka may no longer need sponsorship money from Tres Sportswear anymore. But, then and again, why would any woman want to depend entirely on her husband? Let’s see how she manages her new life in America, the land of opportunity.

Here are the 10 things Shohei Ohtani said he can’t live without. We all know now that the list needs to be updated to 11.

Wishing you happiness, Mamiko and Shohei!

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About the Author

A serial entrepreneur, Melinda is a sociologist and statistician who believes there is no currency with greater value than knowledge

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