Shohei Ohtani introduced as a Dodger, sets jersey sale record

League: MLB

Posted on: 15 Dec, 2023 at 04:50 AM

Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Even before Shohei Ohtani was formally introduced by the Los Angeles Dodgers, he had set one new record.

Fanatics reported Wednesday that sales of the No. 17 Ohtani Dodgers jersey broke their record for the number of jerseys sold in the first 48 hours. The Dodgers signed Ohtani to a record 10-year, $700 million deal on Saturday.

Come Thursday afternoon, Ohtani was wearing a jersey of his own as he officially traded in his Los Angeles Angels uniform for Dodger blue.

"There's a lot of reasons (why he chose the Dodgers)," Ohtani said through interpreter Ippei Mizuhara, "but one thing that really stands out in my head is when I had the meeting with the Dodgers, the ownership group, they said when they looked back at the last 10 years, even though they made the playoffs every single year, won one World Series ring, they considered that a failure. When I heard that, I knew they were all about winning."

Ohtani, 29, has yet to reach the postseason in his six MLB seasons spent entirely with the Angels.

To that end, Ohtani explained why his contract, which includes $680 million in deferred money, also has an opt-out clause after any season if either owner Mark Walter or president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman leave the Dodgers.

"Everybody has to be on the same page to have a winning organization. I feel like those two are at the top of it, and are in control of everything," Ohtani said. "It's almost like I'm having a contract with those two guys. I felt like if one of them are gone, then we might not be on the same page and things might get a little out of control, so I just wanted a little safety net."

Ohtani won American League Rookie of the Year followed by two league MVP awards during his time with the Angels, where he made a name for himself stateside as one of the most dominant athletes in any sport.

"It was a fun ride, a great ride for the last six years. ... I'll never forget all the memories I have," Ohtani said. "There's always sadness leaving teams. Last time it was the (Nippon Ham Fighters) and in this case it was the Angels."

Ohtani declined to discuss which other teams he negotiated with in his free agency, as well as the type of elbow procedure he underwent in September. Ohtani will not pitch in 2024 but will be able to bat.

Ohtani did reveal the most important question in many baseball fans' minds: His dog's name is Dekopin in Japanese, and Decoy in English. The dog appeared with him in a video interview when he was named AL MVP last month, but he had been coy about its name.

As for the Dodgers, pursuing the generational two-way talent was a no-brainer.

"Shohei is arguably the most talented player who has ever played this game," Friedman said. "One of our goals is to have baseball fans in Japan convert to Dodger blue."

The signing also provided an expected spike in merchandise sales back home.

Per Fanatics, the Lionel Messi jersey with his new MLS team, Inter Miami, previously ranked No. 1 for 48-hour sales, followed by the jerseys of soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo, Justin Fields (Chicago Bears) and Bryce Harper (Philadelphia Phillies).

The No. 17 previously was worn with the Dodgers by relief pitcher Joe Kelly. Last week, his wife, Ashley Kelly, launched a campaign with the hashtag "#ohtake17," offering the number to Ohtani. One video showed him how she would modify all of the No. 17 items in the Kelly household for use by his family and friends.

The Dodgers announced Tuesday that Kelly will wear No. 99. Ohtani wore No. 17 in all of his six seasons as a two-way superstar with the Los Angeles Angels.

--Field Level Media