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The student news site of Portola High School

Portola Pilot

The student news site of Portola High School

Portola Pilot

Breaking Bats and Barriers: Shohei Ohtani Redefines America’s Pastime

Baseball+has+skyrocketed+in+popularity+to+become+one+of+the+most+popular+sports+in+Japan.+Ohtani%E2%80%99s+meteoric+rise+has+become+a+source+of+national+pride+for+many+people%2C+with+his+remarkable+abilities+captivating+fans+worldwide.+%E2%80%9CI+dont+think+hes+a+regular+human+being%2C+and+I+think+hes+incredibly+remarkable+that+he+could+perform+at+such+a+high+level%2C%E2%80%9D+Dodger+fan+and+social+studies+teacher+Jon+Resendez+said.+%E2%80%9CWhat+I+love+about+sports+in+general%2C+though+this+is+just+a+baseball+example%2C+is+that+sports+have+the+power+to+break+down+a+lot+of+these+barriers+that+we+create+between+ourselves+and+our+communities.%E2%80%9D
Mia Jong
Baseball has skyrocketed in popularity to become one of the most popular sports in Japan. Ohtani’s meteoric rise has become a source of national pride for many people, with his remarkable abilities captivating fans worldwide. “I don’t think he’s a regular human being, and I think he’s incredibly remarkable that he could perform at such a high level,” Dodger fan and social studies teacher Jon Resendez said. “What I love about sports in general, though this is just a baseball example, is that sports have the power to break down a lot of these barriers that we create between ourselves and our communities.”

In America’s greatest pastime, one player has stepped up to the plate, not only swinging for the fences but also shattering cultural barriers — Shohei Ohtani. He has turned the baseball diamond into his personal playground and expanded representation in the sports world, exciting fans across the world with his record-breaking $700 million deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers. 

Ohtani has become one of the most recognizable names in American baseball, and his allure stems from being a two-way player with exceptional ability in both pitching and hitting. In a game where the starting lineup has historically been uniform in appearance, baseball has become more diverse than ever before, with Ohtani being one of the players at the forefront of the shift. 

“As a huge fan of the Korean baseball league, I’ve always wished for more opportunities for talented Asian players to play in the MLB,” Dodger fan and senior Grace Cho said. “I believe his greater representation will ultimately open more doors for other Asian players, and I feel very proud and empowered by what he’s doing for the Asian community.”

A major difference between Ohtani and other Japanese players is the amount of media saturation he receives, according to Dodger fan and social studies teacher Jon Resendez. Due to the frequent coverage of his trade deal, more audiences have the opportunity to talk about his success in a social setting, regardless of if they are baseball viewers. 

Baseball has a history of being the catalyst for change in social barriers since skill is at the forefront of the game. For instance, Jackie Robinson was the first African American player in Major League Baseball, shattering the color barrier that had persisted in the sport for over 50 years and making it one of the first areas of American society to integrate, according to the Library of Congress.

“One of the wonderful things about sports is that we’re all fans of the same team and we’re all fans of the same sport, and it becomes less about our ethnic background,” Resendez said. “Regardless of what your attitudes are about race, you can come together as a Dodger fan.”

For many viewers, Ohtani is not just a player, but he is a trailblazer and a reminder that anyone, no matter their origin, can achieve their dreams with hard work. Fans of all ages and backgrounds proudly celebrate the success of a player who looks like them, with Ohtani becoming a role model of incredible athleticism and a source of pride in their unique heritage. 

“Compared to the past, I began to notice an increasing number of Asian people coming to the stadium, not just Japanese people,” Cho said. “The face of MLB being Asian bridges the gap between different baseball cultures by forming an environment where all fan bases can gather and share their passion for baseball together. Not only that, his presence would inspire more young athletes with Asian backgrounds to pursue their dreams in the sport.”

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About the Contributor
Mia Jong, Centerspread Editor
Mia Jong is the Centerspread Editor and Features Photo Editor for her second year on the Portola Pilot. She loves to create, whether it be with a paintbrush and canvas or a pen and paper, and she can’t wait to write more stories with her fellow Pilot members. In her free time, you can find her chucking onions in the game Overcooked, scrolling through StackOverflow forums to fix her code, creating sticker designs, and watching Pixar movies. She believes everyone has a unique story to tell and hopes to give a voice to the Portola community through her writing.
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