Throwback Tuesday: Shohei Ohtani, Norman Bodek, and the Harada Method

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As I watched the MLB Home Run Derby last night, I really enjoyed watching the Japanese baseball player Shohei Ohtani of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. In fact, he's the only reason I tuned in.

He's often compared to the great Babe Ruth (who is not too distantly related to my wife and one side of her family), because Ohtani both pitches and hits (he's leading MLB in home runs, with 33). I saw someone say the other day that he's not “the second Babe Ruth,” he's “the first Shohei Ohtani.”

Angels Star Shohei Ohtani Isn't the Best Two-Way Player Since Babe Ruth. He's Better.

Tonight, I'll be watching the All Star Game with an interest I haven't felt for years, if not decades. He'll be the starting pitcher for the American League AND he'll be batting first in the order as the Designated Hitter. That's never been done. To be fair to Babe Ruth, by the time the All Star game started, he was no longer pitching (and he couldn't be a designated hitter).

Why am I writing here about Ohtani? I'm writing about him because I probably heard of him well before most readers of this blog… thanks to the late Norman Bodek.

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I heard of Ohtani well before he came to play in the U.S. Norman told me about Ohtani, and wrote about him, in the context of the “Harada Method” as I blogged about in 2018:

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“Ohtani was a student of Mr. Sasaki, who was a student of Harada. Ohtani sketched out his plan for becoming a professional player in the Japanese league in Harada Method style (PDF link). How much did the Harada Method contribute to Ohtani's success?”

Here is a podcast that I did with Norman about the Harada Method:

Ohtani and the Harada Method were mentioned in a 2018 Wall Street Journal article, as I blogged about here:

I'm really enjoying watching Ohtani play. I hope to see him play in person with the Angels this summer. Watching him brings a smile to my face… and it makes me think of Bodek and Harada, which means even more to me personally.

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