‘12 bodyguards surround and threaten’… Couple’s fans feel sad after returning Otani’s home run ball – Seoul Economic Daily VRESP

Receive and return home run balls and autographed bats valued at over $100,000

Otani. AP Yonhap News

‘Superstar’ Shohei Ohtani hit his first home run in the opening 9 games after transferring to the Los Angeles Dodgers. A long-time Dodgers fan grabbed the monumental home run ball and returned it to the club, but after the club’s threatening response became known, the donation of the home run ball changed from a ‘common tale’ to a ‘revelation.’

On the 5th (Korean time), The Athletic, a sports media outlet, included an article about the sad feelings of a couple fans who donated Ohtani’s home run ball to the Dodgers. A couple fans said, “The security guards demanded donation of home run balls in a threatening atmosphere.”

In the 2024 American Professional Baseball Major League (MLB) home game against the San Francisco Giants held at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, California, USA on the 4th, Ohtani crossed the right-center wall with a distance of 131m with the team leading 4-3 in the 7th inning with no runners and two outs. He hit a huge home run. The local U.S. media gave special attention to Ohtani’s first home run after transferring to the Dodgers.

On the day of the game, American and Japanese media reported that a female spectator (Amba Roman) who caught Ohtani’s home run ball happily returned the ball to Ohtani.

Otani said, “It’s a very special ball. Thank you for returning it. Instead, I gave him the ball, two hats, and a bat with an autograph.”

Some media reported that “Ohtani personally met the fan and thanked him,” but it turned out that the statement “the club and the fan communicated directly” was misrepresented during the interpretation process.

Here, Roman and Alexis Valenzuela confessed in an interview with The Athletic, “I felt uncomfortable during the process of retrieving the home run ball. I couldn’t even meet Ohtani.”

Roman, who said he is a long-time Dodgers fan, recalled the thrilling moment, saying, “Every time I come to the ballpark, I always want to catch the ball. But I never imagined I would catch such a monumental ball.” He added, “When I met the security guards, I felt pressured.” “I felt it. They were threatening,” he said.

Roman’s husband, Valenzuela, said, “The security guards separated me and my wife. She had to talk to them in a threatening situation. We are not in financial difficulties. We just wanted to be treated properly.”

According to the couple, more than a dozen security guards surrounded Roman and pressured him, saying, “If you leave the stadium with the baseball, the club will refuse to certify that the ball was Ohtani’s home run ball.”

The Dodgers, which initially offered two autographed hats by Ohtani as ‘compensation for donating home run balls,’ decided to provide additional autographed bats and autographed balls. The couple received this souvenir and gave the home run ball to the Dodgers.

The Athletic said, “Generally, important home run balls are returned by the club through ‘negotiation’ with the spectator who caught the ball. However, monumental balls are sometimes kept by spectators,” and “If the club does not certify, the value of the ball will drop.” “There is no choice. Roman, who catches the Dodgers ball, can feel the pressure,” he explained.

At the Dodger Stadium souvenir shop, a foul ball hit by Ohtani in a Los Angeles Angels uniform in 2021 is placed on the sales counter. The ‘desired selling price’ for this ball is $14,995 (about 20.28 million won).

The Athletic reported, “According to experts, Ohtani’s first home run ball after moving to the Dodgers is worth $100,000 (about 135 million won).”

Valenzuela said, “I don’t regret giving the home run ball to the Dodgers. I have no intention of holding the ball for money,” but added, “Where has the ‘fan love’ that the Dodgers emphasized gone? Their attitude toward us was very disappointing.” pointed out.

The Dodgers team responded to The Athletic by saying, “We may have other discussions later with the fan who donated the home run ball.”


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