Shohei Ohtani attended Hanamaki Higashi High School in Iwate Prefecture, Northern Japan. As an eighteen year old, he threw the fastest pitch in the Japanese national high school baseball championship tournament, commonly called Summer Koshien. But before that he was already destined to be a star.
Before becoming the Los Angeles Angels pitcher, designated hitter, and outfielder, he was just a kid with talent he didn’t understand. His infamous 99 mph fastball at Hanamaki Higashi High School was the stuff of legends. He threw the pitch in the Summer Koshien games and never looked back.
Ohtani was introduced to the sport by his father, and soon the incredible speed of his fast ball drew both domestic and international attention. Initially, he wanted to go to the United States right after finishing school, skipping the Japanese draft, but the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters of Nippon Professional Baseball’s (NPB) Pacific League aggressively courted him. He eventually relented and became their first pick in the 2012 draft.
Ohtani would play the next five seasons for the Fighters and would lead them to the Pacific League Championship and Japan Series title in 2016. He has also won several personal accolades and is the current holder of the record of throwing the fastest pitch by a Japanese pitcher and in NPB history at 102.5 mph. At the international level, he was a member of the bronze-winning Japanese team at the 2015 WBSC Premier 12 championship. In December 2017, he finally came to the US as a contracted player for the Los Angeles Angels. And in just a few years time, he’s made history (see The Future Is Bright section).