Connect with us
Advertisement

Baseball

Shohei Ohtani Surpasses Hideki Matsui for Most MLB Homers by a Japanese Player

Los Angeles Dodgers star Shohei Ohtani ended a seven-game homerless streak by belting the 176th homer of his MLB career in a rout of the New York Mets.

Shohei Ohtani broke Hideki Matsui's record of 175 MLB career home runs for a Japanese player on Sunday, April 21, helping the Los Angeles Dodgers snap a three-game losing streak.

In the third inning, after fouling off a four-seam fastball from New York Mets starter Adrian Houser on the first pitch, Ohtani sent Houser's next offering, a slider, over the right-field fence. The 423-foot blast was Ohtani's fifth homer of the season, giving the Dodgers a 2-0 lead.

Los Angeles earned a 10-0 win, with Ohtani going 2-for-3 with a pair of runs.

It was Ohtani's first home run in 29 at-bats. Entering Sunday's series finale, he had a seven-game homerless streak.

So it's understandable that euphoria was not the only emotion the 2023 American League leader in homers (44) felt after breaking Matsui's record.

Shohei Ohtani
Shohei Ohtani rounds the bases after smacking an 0-1 slider off Mets starter Adrian Houser over the right-field fence in the third inning. (KYODO)

Shohei Ohtani Expresses Joy and Relief

"I took a while to get to this point since my last homer, so just honestly, happy [and] relieved," Ohtani said through interpreter Will Ireton, according to MLB.com.

Although Ohtani was a big admirer of Matsui while growing up in Iwate Prefecture, he told reporters on Sunday that he wasn't always aware of Matsui's MLB career record. For Japanese players, Ichiro Suzuki is third with 117.

But that changed as the years progressed in his MLB career, which started in 2018. Ohtani slugged 46, 34 and 44 homers in 2021, 2022 and 2023 to move close to Matsui's mark.

Shohei Ohtani
Another view of the swing that produced Shohei Ohtani's 176th MLB home run. (KYODO)

Reactions to Ohtani's Record-Breaking Homer

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts, who was born in Okinawa, shared his views on Ohtani's achievement and Matsui's banner career after the game.

"Hideki Matsui was a great ballplayer, a great home run hitter, a world champion," Roberts was quoted as saying by The Associated Press. "I know that Shohei admired him, so for him to eclipse that mark, it's a big deal."

The manager continued: "I know whatever kind of mark is ahead of Shohei, he's trying to take them all down."

Matsui amassed his 175 MLB home runs in 10 seasons (2003-12). That was preceded by 10 legendary seasons with the Yomiuri Giants. In the majors, "Godzilla" had 20 or more home runs in five seasons, topping out at 31 in 2004. He was also named MVP of the 2009 World Series, the first Japanese player to earn that prestigious honor.

Reacting to Sunday's news and reflecting on Ohtani's career and his own, Matsui said there are no comparisons. In short, he paid the ultimate compliment to Ohtani.

"His presence, his ability as a player, he's just a great player," Matsui said through an interpreter, MLB.com reported. "The numbers on my end are just not comparable. ... I'm sure many of the fans have their expectations as far as what he may do, what he may accomplish. As far as [I am concerned], my hope is just that he stays healthy."

Take a Food Journey Around the World!

For Ohtani, a Sizzling Start to the Season

Through Sunday, Ohtani, a two-time American League MVP, leads Major League Baseball in batting average (.368). He is also No 1 in hits (35) and doubles (11).

RELATED:

Author: Ed Odeven

Find Ed on JAPAN Forward's dedicated website, SportsLook. Follow his [Japan Sports Notebook] on Sundays, [Odds and Evens] during the week, and X (formerly Twitter) @ed_odeven.

close

Experience the Pulse of Japanese Baseball

Feel the heartbeat of Japanese baseball! Stay updated on Nippon Professional Baseball League and Japanese players in Major League Baseball throughout the year. Subscribe now to immerse yourself in the dynamic world of Japanese baseball.

We don’t spam! Read our privacy policy for more info.

Click to comment

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply

Advertisement MX Free Shipping on $99+

Sign-Up to Our Newsletter

Sign-up!

Receive regular sports updates and news directly in your inbox

We don’t spam! Read our privacy policy for more info.

Advertisement Take a Food Journey Around the World!

More in Baseball