Baseball-Ohtani’s LA mural celebrates larger-than-life ballplayer

By Thomson Reuters Mar 27, 2024 | 10:45 PM

By Jorge Garcia

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – ‘Ohtani-mania’ officially kicked off in downtown Los Angeles on Wednesday with the unveiling of a 15-story mural of new Dodgers star Shohei Ohtani.

It took almost a month to create the mural on the side of the Japanese Miyako Hotel in LA’s Little Tokyo and artist Robert Vargas said it represents the cultural bridge between Japan and the ‘City of Angels’.

“We’re team LA and looking at everybody here, I see the whole country of Japan rooting for Shohei,” Vargas told the crowd on hand for the unveiling.

“We’re all Angelinos rooting for Shohei. That nation and Dodger Nation are all on the same team.”

Fans wearing Ohtani merchandise posed for photos in front of the mural and gazed up at the gigantic tribute to their favorite player, who joined the Dodgers from the Angels via free agency in the offseason.

“I love the Angels and I love the Dodgers as well,” said Ohtani fan Chika Maekawa.

“And I love Shohei so much. As a Japanese person, today I’m very honored to be here. When I see this mural, I am proud of my country Japan. I’m very happy to see Ohtani in LA.”

Ohtani fan Ichiro Suzuki said he was a huge fan of the player due to his friendly nature as well as his talent and sportsmanship.

“Obviously he’s great at baseball,” said Suzuki, whose mother named him after the former Seattle Mariners All-Star outfielder.

“But he becomes an icon because not only is he very cheerful and happy, but he’s also very friendly towards others, helpful, and also a great team mate.

“He shows great amounts of sportsmanship and acts as a true role model to a lot of people. That’s what’s really great about him.”

Two-time AL MVP Ohtani inked a record 10-year, $700 million contract with the Dodgers in the offseason for a club eager to claim a World Series title this season. They play their home opener on Thursday.

The unveiling comes two days after Ohtani denied any knowledge of, or involvement in, a gambling scandal involving his former interpreter Ippei Mizuhara.

(Additional reporting by Rory Carroll in Los Angeles; Editing by Peter Rutherford)