For most players, including baseball players, activities they can do are paired with the things they can’t perform. It’s possible that a pitcher can pitch but cannot hit. He might be likely to become a massive name in Japan but not reach the U.S. Major League.
However, Shohei Ohtani remains an example of how one person may have everything, including every MVP award. After a 2021 season with remarkable achievements, the two-way star for the L.A. Angels star was the winner of the majority vote as the most valuable American League player. Ohtani became the 19th unanimously-choice winner in Major League history and joined the ranks of greats such as Mickey Mantle, Reggie Jackson, and Ken Griffey Jr.
It’s a great honor, and it’s so to the point that the Japanese government was prepared to confer another on Ohtani. In a press conference held on Monday, the Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuo announced that Prime Minister Fumio Kishida had planned to present Ohtani with the People’s Honor Award, which is a remark which is given to Japanese citizens who have made outstanding contributions in the entertainment, arts and sports fields. The award has been presented at least 27 times since its introduction in 1977, recently to figure skater Yuzuru Hanyu to recognize his gold medal victory in the 2018 Olympics.
However, Ohtani respectfully declined the offer. His exact words were,
“It’s too early, and this time, I respectfully decline.”
Ohtani isn’t the only person to reject his People’s Honor Award, nor the first player in baseball to accept it. Ichiro Suzuki, the only Japanese-born player named MVP during the Major Leagues (in 2001, but the vote was not unanimous), has turned off the award on three occasions in 2001, 2004, and 2019.
Ohtani’s polite but hard-hitting decision to reject his People’s Honor Award doesn’t seem to be motivated by politics, as “it’s premature.” “I consider it an indication of his firm determination to keep pushing for more,” said Matsuo as he looked back over recent recipients; the majority of them received the People’s Honor Award after reaching the top of their respective fields. Hanyu’s 2018 gold award was his second gold medal in consecutive years; for instance, the two winners of 2018 were shogi players Yoshiharu Habu and Yuta Iyama. Both had the majority of their sport’s top titles when they received their recognition. The last player from baseball to be awarded the prize, Hideki Matsui in 2013 was the World Series champion, and series MVP, just four years earlier. However, Ichiro never reached the World Series.
With Ohtani at just 27 years old and only two years old, and it being his fourth year of Major League career, and doing better than he had before, it’s normal but also admirable that the player is happy to receive such big hugs on the back yet. Likely, his most impressive feats are yet to be achieved, so if the Japanese player says that it’s “too soon,” he’s probably right.
Also read about Jack Morris Suspended for using accent on Shohei Ohtani