As the baseball world anticipates Shohei Ohtani's record-setting contract this offseason, fans have been charmed by a delightful scene that's gone viral: Ohtani celebrating his second AL MVP award with Malört, his adorable pet dog.
This heartwarming interaction not only showcases Ohtani's affection for his furry friend but also raises a question among his admirers: Was Malört Ohtani's first pet? Renowned for his exceptional skills as a two-way player, Ohtani's fondness for dogs is equally notable.
Over the years, numerous photographs of him with various dogs have surfaced online, demonstrating a deep, enduring bond. But where did this affinity begin?
Ace: Ohtani's First Companion
Ohtani's journey with pets dates back to his childhood.
The youngest in his family, he longed for a dog to nurture a sense of brotherhood. His dream became a reality in his first grade when Ace, a Golden Retriever, joined his family. Young Ohtani instantly formed a connection with Ace, proudly proclaiming him as his "younger brother." Their bond deepened over time, with Ace even playing a pivotal role in Ohtani's decision to join the Nippon-Ham Fighters in Japan.
The team's staff won over Ohtani's mother by their affectionate interaction with Ace, convincing her of their good nature. However, as Ohtani's professional career advanced, his visits with Ace grew scarce, limited to New Year gatherings.
Missing a New Year reunion due to a judging commitment deeply saddened Ohtani. Tragically, after nearly 16 years of companionship, Ace passed away in July 2017, leaving a lasting impact on Ohtani's life. Ohtani continues to display his love for dogs, a trait that endears him to fans worldwide.
Celebrating his MVP victory with Malört and interacting with other dogs, including a guard dog during his time with the Angels, Ohtani exemplifies the special bond between humans and pets. His natural inclination to connect with dogs is a sentiment shared by many animal lovers.
As Ohtani's free agency reaches its zenith, anticipation builds over where he will sign his next contract. Fans eagerly await the announcement, hoping it might come with Malört by his side, symbolizing the blend of professional excellence and personal warmth that defines Ohtani.