Japanese fans -- politely! -- pass around Ohtani HR ball

March 12th, 2023

TOKYO -- There's plenty of footage of big league fans going all out for home run balls. Heck, we've seen videos of fans jumping over seats and even falling into rivers over foul balls. And yet, when Shohei Ohtani hit the first World Baseball Classic home run of his career -- putting his squad up 3-0, en route to a 7-1 win and perfect 4-0 record in Pool B -- there was none of that among the Samurai Japan fans in Tokyo Dome's right field.

After Team Japan and Yomiuri Giants fan Yuma Akatsu snagged the precious souvenir, a number of fans displayed that age-old skill so many of us learned in kindergarten: The art of sharing. The ball was passed around the outfield with each fan snapping a quick photo before passing it along to the next.

"It was a great experience," Akatsu said. "I'm really happy that I was able to share that experience with everyone else around."

While the ball was soaring through the air, Akatsu's mind thought of only one thing: "I was just hoping that it would come to me," Akatsu said. "I was just saying, 'Come! Come!'"

"It's a true honor to be able to catch it and it feels like I've used all my life's worth of luck," she joked.

While she's having a blast at the World Baseball Classic, she does have one dream for the rest of the tournament: "I want Team Japan to be number one in the world!"

In the end, the ball's original and rightful owner took back possession of the priceless baseball artifact. Of course, Japan's Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum is next door to the Tokyo Dome and perhaps they may want the ball for their own collection ...