Shohei Ohtani makes winning debut for Dodgers in Seoul MLB opener. ‘The best player you’d see in 100 years,’ says one fan

Shohei Ohtani makes winning debut for Dodgers in Seoul MLB opener. ‘The best player you’d see in 100 years,’ says one fan - Entertainment - News

Shohei Ohtani’s Historic MLB Debut in Seoul: A Night of International Baseball Excitement

The historic first pitch of Major League Baseball (MLB) in South Korea took place on Wednesday night, as the Los Angeles Dodgers, led by their Japanese two-way star Shohei Ohtani, triumphantly defeated the San Diego Padres in a thrilling 5-2 victory. This groundbreaking event brought MLB to an international audience, highlighting the increasing presence of Asian stars like Ohtani in the sport.

The opening game of the two-game Seoul Series marked the start of the MLB season and showcased an unprecedented international appeal. Thousands of fans, including Ohtani’s wife Mamiko Tanaka – a Japanese basketball player – gathered at Seoul’s Gocheok Skydome to witness this momentous occasion.

However, the day was not without its challenges as the South Korean authorities received a bomb threat via email targeting Ohtani. Over 150 police officers were dispatched to the stadium to search for any threats, fortunately, no explosives were found.

The crowd’s attention was primarily focused on Ohtani, who delivered two hits, an RBI, and a stolen base, much to the delight of the audience. During one of his hits, Tanaka was seen giving high-fives to nearby spectators.

Padres shortstop Kim Ha-seong, South Korea’s top billing in baseball, received the warmest reception from the crowd. His team was indeed the home team, as Skydome was once his stadium when he played for the Korea Baseball Organization’s (KBO) Kiwoom Heroes.

The excitement was palpable as the atmosphere in Skydome echoed with cheers and applause during every significant moment of the game, proving that MLB made a wise decision by bringing its biggest star to Seoul for the season opener.

This unforgettable MLB game extended beyond the diamond, with between-innings entertainment featuring both teams’ cheerleaders performing K-pop routines. The presence of Asian stars on the field and the K-pop spectacle off the field encapsulated the essence of a truly international baseball experience.

Fans like Korean Park Jun-hyuk and Japanese Motoki Sato traveled long distances to witness Ohtani in person, joining thousands of others eager to experience the magic of this groundbreaking event. Park stated that he was at the stadium to see Ohtani because “he’s like the best player you’d see in 100 years.”

The MLB merchandise tent saw a frenzy of activity hours before the game, with fans eagerly snapping up jerseys and other memorabilia. Ohtani’s numbered jerseys were among the fastest-selling items, as were those of Kim Ha-seong.

This Seoul Series marked the ninth time MLB opened its season outside the 50 US states and Canada, making it a truly global event. Chan Ho Park, the first Korean player in MLB, threw the ceremonial first pitch, while Kim Ha-seong received a warm ovation for his first at-bat.

Brenda and Gerardo Marquez, lucky fans from San Diego who won tickets reserved for Padres supporters, had traveled to Seoul specifically to see Kim Ha-seong in his home country. Their daughters, who were avid BTS fans, were thrilled by the K-pop performances during the game. Despite the Padres’ loss, the Marquez family felt that the experience was a win-win situation for them.

This unforgettable event not only showcased Asia on and off the diamond but also solidified Shohei Ohtani’s place as a global baseball icon.