Correa gives sister 'perfect birthday' -- with help from Ohtani

August 14th, 2022

ANAHEIM -- Saturday was a wonderful day to be Carlos Correa's younger sister, Leibysand Correa. On her brother's dime, she got to fly to the Los Angeles area to celebrate her 14th birthday around her extended family at the ballpark.

She got to watch her big brother homer and reach base five times, and she even got to watch her favorite player in the big leagues hit a home run, too. You see, those are two different players -- because she's a bigger fan of Shohei Ohtani than she is of her own brother.

Yep, such is Ohtani's stature in the sport that even the younger sister of one of his longtime divisional nemeses openly cheers for the two-way Angels superstar. All she wanted for her birthday was a photo with Ohtani, and Correa, being the family man that he is, flew his parents and sister in from Puerto Rico to make her dreams come true before the Twins' 11-inning loss.

"She went to the room last night and she had the most amazing birthday, of course," Correa said. "I hit a homer. Ohtani hit a homer. She got to meet him, took a picture with him. It was pretty much the perfect birthday for her, so that made me really happy."

That proved the highlight of Correa’s weekend, too, as the Twins also lost Sunday’s series finale, 4-2, to drop to 2 1/2 back of Cleveland in the American League Central.

Before Saturday’s game, Correa's parents and sister waited in the area outside of the clubhouses at Angel Stadium, hoping that Ohtani would have a chance to escape his pregame routine for that photo. When the superstar appeared, Leiby actually kept her cool, got the photo she'd hoped for and got her Ohtani jersey signed. (That's right: Both of Correa's parents were wearing their son's jersey to the game, but Leiby proudly wore a bright red Ohtani jersey.)

Via Leiby Correa@lillymiu_ on Instagram

In fact, she has started learning how to speak Japanese because of her Ohtani fandom, and she got a chance to practice her language skills with her idol (though Carlos had no idea what they were saying to each other).

And as soon as Ohtani left and the doors to the Angels clubhouse closed, Leiby broke down in sobs.

"Not crying -- she was bawling," Correa said. "She flooded the hall with her tears."

An hour or so later, Correa stepped to the plate and crushed his 14th homer of the year, an opposite-field blast to right-center. He was proud to have hit his 14th homer on his sister's 14th birthday. But in the eighth inning, his rival for his sister's affection one-upped him by mashing a homer to center field -- just out of reach of Byron Buxton -- which loomed large in the Angels' eventual comeback victory.

And in Correa's mind, there was no question which of those homers Leiby enjoyed more.

"His, 100 percent," Correa said. "She's tired of watching me hit home runs. She watches every one of my games. She's never seen Ohtani live hitting a homer on her birthday."

Though Correa and Ohtani had been rival stars in the American League West for four seasons and had a friendly relationship, the timing had never quite lined up for Correa to try to bring his sister to a game against the Angels and set up a meeting.

And though Leiby had joked leading into the game that she hoped that Carlos would get a hit but that Ohtani would win, Carlos didn't take it personally at all -- because Ohtani is the type of player he wants her to idolize.

"She’s obsessed with him, and that makes me very happy, because he’s a great role model," Correa said. "He's a guy that obviously is making history every single night and he’s just a great role model to have, so for her to look up to a guy like him, it’s good."

Correa's parents and sister left Anaheim on Sunday, bound for Houston, where Leiby will start a new school year on Monday. It's safe to say she'll have a spring in her step.

"I’m sure she will remember this one for a long time, and I’m very appreciative of Ohtani taking his time to take a picture with her because I know how busy he is and I know everyone wants a piece of Ohtani," Correa said. "He’s the biggest superstar in this sport, so for him to go out of his way and give her a couple minutes of his time, to me, that means the world."