Shohei Ohtani’s spring training struggles evaporated into the night air near Disneyland Tuesday. His first major league home run, belted in front of an enthusiastic home crowd, was the talk of sports world.
Considering the fuss over Ohtani and the intense interest from his home country, the ball would have been worth a significant amount of money on the open market but it won’t be in any auction catalog.
Because of the generosity of a Cleveland Indians fan who was in town on business, a nine-year-old Southern California boy wound up with it.
Chris Incorvaia of Cleveland gave Ohtani’s first career home run ball to Angels fan Matthew Gutierrez sitting behind him. “He’s an Angels fan. I’m an Indians fan. I knew he would appreciate it a lot more.” pic.twitter.com/6dvjOmTlhF
— Tomoya Shimura (@OCRTomoya) April 4, 2018
Obviously, Ohtani and the Angels wanted it back and the young boy and his father decided not to take it home as the souvenir of a lifetime. After the game, they posed for pictures as Ohtani handed over some autographed memorabilia to both families.
— Angel Stadium (@angelstadium) April 4, 2018
“I just waited and the ball landed right here in front of us,” Incorvaia told MLB.com. “I saw [Matthew] instantly in his Angels gear and I saw him with the glove out — he was trying to get the same ball I was — and [I thought to myself] he’s going to appreciate this ball much more than I am.”
— Play Ball (@PlayBall) April 4, 2018
Two Southern California auction companies believe the ball could have sold for anywhere from $10,000-$25,000– or more– had it been put up for sale. However, both David Kohler of SCP Auctions and J.P. Cohen of Memory Lane told us that international interest could have made for an interesting battle. “The Japanese market and demand is a wild card for sure,” Kohler stated, indicating that something close to a six-figure price wouldn’t have necessarily been out of the question if Ohtani continues his success this spring.
Whether he realized how much the ball might be worth wasn’t clear but Incorvaia insisted he had no regrets after seeing the smile on Matthew’s face.
“It was a little surreal seeing what was going on, seeing how excited everyone was and once everything settled I think the reality set in that it was his first homer and that the little boy had it,” Incorvaia told MLB.com. “it was a really profound experience.”
You have some ?️➕ fans, @Indians!
— Angels (@Angels) April 4, 2018
It may have been Ohtani’s first homer in the major leagues, but he was at it again Wednesday afternoon, belting his second of the season, this time off Tribe ace Corey Kluber.
— FOX Sports West (@FoxSportsWest) April 4, 2018