May 17 declared Shohei Ohtani Day in Los Angeles | by Cary Osborne | May, 2024

(Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers)

by Cary Osborne

The №17 now has more meaning in the city of Los Angeles.

May 17 is now “Shohei Ohtani Day” in LA. The Los Angeles City Council made the declaration on Friday at City Hall.

It’s the second straight year City Hall has made a Dodger declaration. “Fernando Valenzuela Day” was declared on Aug. 11 last year on the day of the pitching legend’s №34 being retired by the Dodgers.

Ohtani, in his first season as a Dodger, has been a sensation — more evidenced by his first Dodger bobblehead night on Thursday when lengthy lines snaked around entry gates hours before the game. Shohei Ohtani Bobblehead night brought the biggest crowd to a game at Dodger Stadium — 53,527 — since Sept. 20, 2019.

Members of the Dodgers front office were in attendance at City Hall on Friday as the council recognized Ohtani for his athletic achievements and historic impact as an Angeleno of Japanese descent.

“Thank you very much to the LA City Council,” said Ohtani. “I appreciate you recognizing me on this day. “I want to thank the Dodger organization as well and all the fans.”

Since making his Major League debut on March 29, 2018, the two-way superstar has accumulated multiple distinctions. At the end of his rookie season, he was named the American League Rookie of the Year and later became the first Japanese-born player to hit for the cycle in 2019. He earned the Commissioner’s Historic Achievement Award in 2021, becoming the 16th recipient and second Japanese-born individual to be recognized since the distinction began in 1998. Ohtani also won the American League’s Most Valuable Player and Silver Slugger honors, as well as the Edgar Martinez Outstanding Designated Hitter Award, in both the 2021 and 2023 seasons.

He agreed to a 10-year contract with the Dodgers on Dec. 11.

“Simply put, Shohei has become part of the fabric of Los Angeles,” said Stan Kasten, President and CEO, Los Angeles Dodgers. “Since becoming a member of the Dodger family in December, Shohei has been everything we’ve hoped for and more. “We are grateful for his accomplishments on the field, his warmth in the clubhouse and his character in all respects — and we congratulate him on this well-deserved honor.”

Ohtani was a member of Team Japan during the 2023 World Baseball Classic and was named the Most Valuable Player and part of the All-Tournament team. On April 21, he became the all-time leader in home runs hit by a Japanese-born player in Major League Baseball when he hit his 176th career home run. On May 4, Ohtani passed his own manager, Dave Roberts, as he broke the Dodger record for home runs hit by a Japanese-born player with eight.

He now leads the National League with 12 home runs and leads the Major Leagues in batting average (.360), slugging percentage (.669), OPS (1.099), OPS+ (209) hits (63) and total bases (117).

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