The only new thing about Shohei Ohtani winning 10 games and having more than 10 home runs this season is that it happened in one of Major League Baseball’s two leagues for the first time since 1918. .
Ohtani has achieved this “double-double” twice before, in 2014 and 2016, in the Pacific League, one of Japan’s two major leagues.
The mere fact that this, his third career double-double, is being treated as a one-of-a-kind accomplishment in the United States is a testament not to Ohtani, but to how America sees its place in the world of baseball. .
The term “major league” was coined to elevate America’s top-tier competitions from “minor leagues,” but MLB has since co-opted the term to refer only to its American and National leagues.
If we set aside self-serving terminology to include the major leagues throughout history, we see a bigger picture.
Shohei Ohtani of the Los Angeles Angels throws during a baseball game against the Oakland Athletics on August 9, 2022 at the Coliseum in Oakland, California. Ohtani won his 10th game on the same day, making him the first player to have double-digit home runs as a batter and wins as a pitcher in a single Major League Baseball season since the Hall of Famer Babe Ruth in 1918. (Essonne Info) ==Essonne Info
Babe Ruth’s 1918 double-double was the first in the Major League, followed by Hall of Famer Bullet Rogan in 1922 in the Negro National League, and Kim Seong Han in Korean Baseball’s inaugural season organization in 1982.
The two segments of Ruth’s career, as a star pitcher and a star hitter, intersected for two years, similar to how Kim’s career was spent primarily as a power hitter.
And while the whole world feasts on Ruth-Ohtani comparisons, Ohtani’s real predecessor is Rogan, who did both extremely well and for as long as he could.
Most two-way players were born out of necessity. The Boston Red Sox moved their best pitcher to the outfield when their roster was reduced by the demands of World War I.
Shohei Ohtani of the Los Angeles Angels hits a home run in the seventh inning of a baseball game against the Oakland Athletics, August 9, 2022, at Oakland Coliseum in Oakland, California. (Essonne Info) ==Essonne Info
Negro League teams on tight budgets couldn’t afford to turn their backs on two-way talent, and Rogan was one of them, though few excelled in both areas as he did.
Ohtani’s two-way journey took place at a time when baseball professionals considered it impossible, and wouldn’t have happened if he hadn’t been ready to go straight to America as a pitcher at his graduation from high school.
Seeking ways to keep Ohtani in Japan, the Nippon Ham Fighters offered him what no one else wanted to give him: the ability to throw and punch.
And by excelling in both areas, Ohtani reminds us how rich the world of baseball has been, while pushing the boundaries of what we think is possible.