Giddy Shohei Ohtani Bows To Ichiro In Powerful Pregame Moment Between Japanese Superstars

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Monday night’s game between the Mariners and Angels was not the first time that Shohei Ohtani and Ichiro Suzuki came together on the baseball diamond, but it was just as powerful as the first. The former continues to have the utmost respect for the latter, for whom he has long talked about his admiration.

I have nothing but the utmost respect for him. What he has done for this game, our country and the fans. I wish we could have played against him, but it wasn’t meant to be.

— Shohei Ohtani after Ichiro announced his retirement in 2018

Ohtani was seven years old when Ichiro made his MLB debut. An entire nation idolized the 10-time All-Star, and the greatest two-way player in the sport’s history was among them.

As such, Ohtani has been starstruck by Ichiro on several instances. The two first met in 2018, and the grin on the Angels superstar’s face told the entire story.

They connected again in May of 2021, and the way that Ohtani looked at Ichiro was like a child meeting their hero— because, in a sense, it was.

Special Assistant to the Chairman of the Seattle Mariners Ichiro Suzuki (L) talks with Shohei Ohtani #17 of the Los Angeles Angels on the field before a game at T-Mobile Park on May 1, 2021. (Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)

The two Japanese legends were able to connect again later that year. Although Ohtani had met Ichiro on a few occasions before, the gravity of the moment did not wear off. And in a showing of the utmost respect, he took off his hat to bow to his elder.

Shohei Ohtani #17 of the Los Angeles Angels and Ichiro Suzuki of the Seattle Mariners shake hands before the game at T-Mobile Park on July 10, 2021 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)

It was the same in 2022.

Shohei Ohtani #17 of the Los Angeles Angels bows to former Seattle Mariners player Ichiro Suzuki before the game at T-Mobile Park on June 17, 2022 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images)

Monday marked the fourth or fifth time that Ichiro and Ohtani were able to chat before the game. Even though they are old friends at this point, the 28-year-old’s admiration has not wavered.

The second that he laid eyes on Ichiro in pregame, nothing else mattered. Ohtani immediately resorted to his childlike self as he ran over to catch up with his childhood hero.

As they met on the field before Los Angeles’ 7-3 win over Seattle, Ohtani again paid his respects. A photo captured by AP staff photographer Lindsey Wasson tells a powerful story.

It has been half a decade since Ichiro and Ohtani first met. But even after five years, the incredible bond that the two Japanese greats continue to share is a testament to their impact on the sport and their country. Pretty cool.

Written by Grayson Weir

Grayson doesn't drink coffee. He wakes up Jacked.

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