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Los Angeles Dodgers fire baseball star Shohei Ohtani’s interpreter over illegal gambling scandal

2024.03.30 04:06:46 Yuchan Shim

[Rogers Centre, Toronto, Canada. Credit to Unsplash]

Ippei Mizuhara, longtime interpreter and friend of baseball star Shohei Ohtani, has been fired by the Los Angeles Dodgers amidst allegations of illegal gambling.


Mizuhara stands accused of transferring at least $4.5 million dollars from Ohtani’s bank account to a bookmaker.


The news came as a shock as Mizuhara had been a constant companion for Ohtani in his baseball career.


The duo’s journey began when Mizuhara went to work as an interpreter for the Hokkaidō Nippon-Ham Fighters in Japans Nippon Professional Baseball League, where Ohtani had just joined as a rookie.


When Ohtani signed for the Los Angeles Angels in 2017, he decided to bring Mizuhara along as his translator.


Mizuhara shared a bond with Ohtani that extended beyond mere interpretation; he was a constant companion and friend.


In December 2023, everything seemed to be going well for Ohtani as he made history by signing a 10-year, $700 million deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers.


It was the biggest contract in baseball history and garnered massive attention from fans.


The Dodgers also hired Mizuhara alongside Ohtani, keeping the two together.


Consequently, the news of Mizuhara’s involvement in a theft related to illegal gambling came as a shock.


He allegedly transferred millions of dollars from Ohtani’s bank account and wired it to a bookmaking operator in California.


While sports betting is legal in some states, it remains illegal in California.


Mizuhara initially revealed to ESPN on March 19 that Ohtani helped him pay off his gambling debts on soccer, basketball, and football.


However, he later changed his story, saying that Ohtani was unaware of his debts or the transfer of money to bookmakers.


In accordance with Major League Baseball regulations, any association with illegal bookmakers incurs severe penalties, irrespective of direct involvement in betting activities.


Ohtani, addressing the unfolding debate, emphasized his innocence and swift action in liaising with legal representatives.


Ohtani stated, “When I was finally able to talk to my representatives, that’s when my representatives found out Ippei has been lying the whole time and I started contacting the Dodgers and my lawyers”.


The Dodgers manager Dave Roberts also refused to comment on the issue, only stating that Ohtani will be ready for future games.


MLB initiated an investigation surrounding Ohtani and potential roles he may have played in this scandal.


However, since the result is unlikely to be publicized, nobody will know the repercussions the Japanese baseball star will face until the investigation is fully over, which can take several months.


Ohtani’s new temporary interpreter will be Will Ireton, a fluent Japanese speaker who’s been a part of the Dodgers organization for a while.


Despite all the turmoil surrounding him, Ohtani has started both Seoul Series games as a designated hitter, and is expected to continue that role as the 2024 MLB season officially starts on March 28th.

Yuchan Shim / Grade 10
Cornerstone Collegiate Academy of Seoul