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Shohei Ohtani Receives Commissioner’s Historic Achievement Award

"It's really extraordinary to find a human being who can perform at the highest level in Major League Baseball as both a pitcher and a position player,” Rob Manfred said.

The accolades keep coming for Shohei Ohtani.

The Los Angeles Angels superstar received the Commissioner's Historic Achievement Award earlier this week. 

The setting: Minute Maid Park in Houston. The occasion: Before the first game of the 2021 World Series on Tuesday, October 26.

MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred proudly handed the award to Ohtani before the Houston Astros and Atlanta Braves began competing for the coveted championship trophy.

In recognition of Ohtani's exceptionally rare combination of power-hitting skills, speed on the basepaths and pitching prowess, Mandred didn't need to convince anyone that he fully supported recognizing the Angels player in a big, bold way during MLB’s marquee event.

“It's really extraordinary to find a human being who can perform at the highest level in Major League Baseball as both a pitcher and a position player,” Manfred told a news conference. “It takes courage and fortitude not to make the choice that players traditionally make, and it takes tremendous endurance to do both over the course of what is a grueling 162-game schedule.”

Not only did Ohtani slug 46 home runs, score 103 runs and produce 100 RBIs in 2021, he also had 26 doubles, eight triples and 26 stolen bases. In addition, he went 9-2 as a starting pitcher. Ohtani struck out 156 batters in 130⅓ innings in his fourth season with the Angels.

Ohtani, who is the favorite to be named American League MVP in early November, was selected as the overall Player of the Year in the Major League Baseball Players Association's annual Players Choice Awards, it was announced on Thursday, October 28.

Although the Commissioner’s Award was established in 1998 by Manfred’s predecessor, Bud Selig, it has not been issued every year.

In fact, the last award winner was future Hall of Famer Derek Jeter in 2014. Manfred became commissioner the next year. Ohtani is the first player he decided to honor with this prestigious award.

Ichiro Suzuki won the award in 2005 in recognition of his MLB single-season record-breaking hit total (262) in ’04.

Ohtani humbly accepted the honor.

“This award is not given out every year, so I know how special it is,” Ohtani was quoted as saying by MLB.com through an interpreter. “I'm not fully sure if I really deserve it, but since Mr. Manfred's going to give it to me, I'm going to accept it.”

Manfred, meanwhile, predicted he’ll be handing a number of awards to Ohtani in the years to come.

“Over the next few years, I know that there are going to be many, many awards and accolades that come your way,” Manfred said to Ohtani at a news conference. “But I felt that 2021 was so special that it was important to recognize the historic achievement that took place in 2021 with an award just about 2021.”

The complete list of Commissioner's Award winners is published in this MLB.com article.

Author:  Ed Odeven

Follow Ed on JAPAN Forward's [Japan Sports Notebook] here on Sundays, in [Odds and Evens] here during the week, and Twitter @ed_odeven.

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