Hideki Matsui congratulates Shohei Ohtani over breaking single-season HR mark
Shohei Ohtani on Wednesday hit his league-leading 32nd home run in the Los Angeles Angels’ 5-4 win over the Boston Red Sox at Angel Stadium.
In doing so, the phenom became the most prolific Japanese-born home run hitter in a single season in Major League Baseball history.
Ohtani’s latest awe-inspiring round-tripper came on a 433-foot solo blast during the fifth inning.
Ohtani’s 32nd home run on the season moved him past Japanese legend Hideki Matsui, who hit 31 homers as a member of the New York Yankees in 2004. The fact that Ohtani eclipsed Matsui’s mark before the All-Star break made the accomplishment that much more amazing.
After the win, the Angels shared Matsui’s congratulatory message to Ohtani.
“32 home runs in a season is just a passing point for a hitter like Shohei,” Matsui said in the statement. “He exceeds what is considered conventional for a Major League player and there is no one else like him. I hope he continues his success this season as he carries the hopes and dreams of many fans and young children. As a baseball fan myself, I can’t wait to see what he is able to do next.”
Ohtani was left humbled by surpassing childhood hero Matsui’s single-season mark.
“I’ve said it before, but he’s someone I’ve been watching as a child growing up, so it’s a huge honor to do something he’s done,” Ohtani said through his translator, via the New York Post.
The single-season homer mark by a Japanese player is not the only history Ohtani has made of late. Earlier this week, the Angels two-way superstar became the first player in MLB history to be selected to the All-Star Game as both a position player and a pitcher. Angels manager Joe Maddon has since confirmed that Ohtani will hit and pitch in the All-Star Game on July 13 at Coors Field.
What’s more, Ohtani will also compete in the Home Run Derby, earning the No. 1 seed along the way.
“I always wanted to see a Japanese player participate in the derby, and it happens to be me,” Ohtani said through his interpreter in June, via ESPN. “It’s really exciting for me.”