Shohei Otani (29), known for being a “model student,” knew the team’s bylaws but didn’t follow them. He did it out of concern for his teammates. It happened during the World Baseball Classic (WBC) in March.
On March 9, Japanese media outlet SportsNippon (Sponichi) published a local interview with St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Ras Nuba (26). Several WBC-related anecdotes were mentioned, most notably about Otani.
One of them is an incident that happened early on in his time with the team. Most Japanese professional baseball teams are required to wear suits when traveling as a team. This was true for the WBC team, Samurai Japan (South Korea’s Lee Kang-chul also wore a suit as part of the team’s uniform). The team was issued a two-tone blue and black singlets, a white t-shirt, and a tie, all made by apparel company U.
However, Nutba’s suit, which was sent to him from the US, was late. It didn’t arrive until the day of his first move. He had to go to the shinkansen station in plain clothes. When Otani heard about this, he said, “Then I won’t wear a suit either,” and changed into something more casual.
He was the only foreigner on the team, and all eyes were on him. If I was the only one wearing different clothes, even casual clothes instead of a suit, I was sure to get some stares. He was worried about that. In the end, they were the only two members of the team at the station who didn’t wear suits. This was very unusual for Ohtani, who is known as a straight-laced man.
Of course, according to his interview with Nutba, there was nothing “out of character” about it. “He didn’t say anything (about the clothes), it was just a natural behavior, and I could feel him saying, ‘Hey, you’re not the only one without a suit, don’t worry about it, you’re part of our team, you’re a colleague.’ So I appreciated it more, and I was touched by it.”
The praise continues for Nutba, who has a Japanese mother.
“When I first went, I didn’t know anyone. Everyone was friendly, but it still wasn’t easy, and Shohei was always there to make sure I didn’t feel awkward. He would come up to me, talk to me, and introduce me to the players. Think about it. He’s the best baseball player on the planet, someone you don’t dare to mess with. For him to be so considerate, it’s unbelievable. He’s the ultimate nice guy.” 토토사이트
Ohtani’s behavior inspired other players to follow suit.
“It’s brought me closer to the players. We talk to them in the locker room, in the hostel, at meals. I quickly became close to friends like Ippei (Otani’s interpreter Mizuhara), Dar Sang (Darbitsu), Loki (Sasaki), and Yoshinobu (Yamamoto). During breaks, Shohei would always ask me to play cell phone games. He probably didn’t want me to get bored by myself. He never lost, and I got a little pissed off because he won every day (laughs).”
Then came the competition. The Japanese team performed the “pepper grinder” ceremony. As you may know, the Cardinals are the originators. The intention was to mimic Nuba and keep the energy up (at least that’s how I felt). And the gesture caught on like wildfire. No pepper grinders in Japan