Have a day! City of LA declares 'Shohei Ohtani Day,' then he crushes HR

Star slugger honored at City Hall; Dodgers lineup keeps celebration going

May 18th, 2024

LOS ANGELES – For as long as plays for the Dodgers -- which will be at least for the next decade -- May 17 will be known as “Shohei Ohtani Day” in Los Angeles County.

Earlier on Friday, Ohtani was honored at Los Angeles City Hall and was presented with the resolution. Members of the Dodgers front office and manager Dave Roberts were in attendance as the council recognized Ohtani with the honor for his athletic achievements and “historic impact as an Angeleno of Japanese descent.”

While the event took place in the morning, Ohtani returned to Dodger Stadium in the afternoon just to do what he does best: Crush baseballs. He celebrated his first Ohtani Day by hitting an opposite-field two-run homer off right-hander Frankie Montas to help the Dodgers beat the Reds, 7-3.

“He didn’t homer on his bobblehead day, so he was due to homer on some significant Ohtani day,” Roberts said. “We’ll take the home run on Shohei Ohtani Day. That was a ball down at the knees. To hit it the other way, spin it really well, big hit. We just marvel at what he does.”

Since making his Major League debut on March 29, 2018, the two-way superstar has accumulated multiple distinctions. At the end of his rookie season, he was named the American League Rookie of the Year and later became the first Japanese-born player to hit for the cycle in 2019. He earned the Commissioner’s Historic Achievement Award in 2021, becoming the 16th recipient and second Japanese-born individual to be recognized since the honor began in 1998.

The off the field recognitions will certainly keep coming for Ohtani, who continues to establish himself as one of the most recognizable sports figures in the world. Those things, however, keep coming because of everything he continues to do on the field.

Ohtani’s homer on Friday gives him 13 on the season, tying him for the Major League lead with Houston’s Kyle Tucker and Baltimore’s Gunnar Henderson. The two-time American League Most Valuable Player leads the Majors with a .358 batting average and a 1.102 OPS.

“Thank you very much to the L.A. City Council,” Ohtani said earlier Friday through a team press release. “I appreciate you recognizing me on this day. I want to thank the Dodger organization as well and all the fans.”

Ohtani isn’t the only one who contributed in the win over the Reds. In fact, the Dodgers got help from all over the lineup.

Mookie Betts got it all started with a leadoff homer for the 51st time in his career. A few innings later, Ohtani made his mark. Then in the seventh, with the game tied at 3, the Reds decided to intentionally walk Freddie Freeman with Ohtani standing on second base. Behind Freeman, of course, is All-Star catcher Will Smith. He made sure to make Cincinnati pay.

Smith lined a single into center field to give the Dodgers the lead. They tacked on another run on a wild pitch. Then Jason Heyward, who was playing in his first big league game since March 30, hit a two-run homer in the eighth to put the game out of reach.

“It’s awesome to be back out there,” Heyward said. “I never take that for granted, playing the game. But it’s huge to get an at-bat like that, to add on, keeps the pressure off of us. That’s a big part of the season, if you can add on in moments like that, so definitely don’t take that for granted.”

Getting Heyward back in the lineup is a big boost to the bottom of the order, which has been a bit inconsistent to start the season. The star power the Dodgers have at the top is their biggest strength, but they’re getting contributions from all over the lineup.

That’s going to be tested over the next couple of weeks with Max Muncy out of the lineup with a right oblique strain. They passed their first test on Friday against the Reds, and they can say they’re undefeated on Shohei Ohtani Day for at least a calendar year.

“Today was a really good night,” Roberts said. “Up and down the lineup, Mookie started it off with a homer. That was nice to see. I thought [Kiké Hernández] took good at-bats all night long. Will obviously with the two-out base hit was big. … Across the board it was really good.”