Los Angeles Angels two-way star Shohei Ohtani was presented the Commissioner’s Historic Achievement Award by MLB commissioner Rob Manfred during a pregame ceremony before Game 1 of the World Series.
Ohtani is the 16th all-time recipient of the honor and first since Hall of Fame shortstop Derek Jeter and legendary L.A. Dodgers broadcaster Vin Scully earned the award in 2014. “It’s a huge honor. It’s an unbelievable award. I’m really happy about it,” Ohtani said.
“I just want to thank the fans, thank everyone with MLB and everybody with the Angels. I wouldn’t have been able to do it without everyone’s support. So thank you very much.”
The Commissioner’s Historic Achievement Award was created in 1998 and recognizes the accomplishments and contributions of historical significance to the game.
Ohtani, the strong favorite to win the American League MVP Award next month, put up historic numbers this season as a two-way player that drew comparisons to Babe Ruth.
Ohtani hit .257/.372/.592 with 26 doubles, eight triples, 46 home runs, 100 RBI and 26 stolen bases in 639 plate appearances across 155 games. He also went 9-2 with a 3.18 ERA, 3.52 FIP and 1.09 WHIP in 130.1 innings pitched over 23 starts on the mound.
“Those of us that are privileged to work in the game or cover this sport understand how much talent it takes to be a Major League player, a position player, a pitcher,” Manfred began.
“Every once in a while you see a player who was so talented that at some point in his career, they had the luxury of deciding, do I want to be a pitcher, or do I want to be a position player?
“It’s really extraordinary to find a human being who can perform at the highest level in Major League Baseball as both a pitcher and a position player. It takes courage and fortitude not to make the choice that players traditionally make, and it takes tremendous endurance to do both over the course of what is a grueling 162-game schedule.
“In 2021, that extraordinary person came to us, and it was Shohei Ohtani. He put on an amazing performance for our fans here in the United States, in Japan, and really all around the world. I can’t tell you the number of people who just tuned in to see every at-bat that you had over the course of the season or the extra attention that was paid to every single start that you made.
“I know that it will be a very long time until there is a repeat of something that happened for the first time in the 88-year history of the All-Star Game, that is, that a player was selected both as a pitcher and a position player, and then the field manager selected him to start the game as the pitcher.
“It’s really an unbelievable set of accomplishments. Over the next few years, I know that there are going to be many, many awards and accolades that come your way, but I felt that 2021 was so special that it was important to recognize the historic achievement that took place in 2021 with an award just about 2021.”
Complete list of Commissioner’s Historic Achievement Award recipients
1998: Cal Ripken Jr. (to commemorate end of consecutive games played streak)
1998: Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa (record-breaking single-season home run chase)
2001: Barry Bonds (set single-season home run record)
2001: Rickey Henderson (to recognize his all-time career records in stolen bases, walks and runs)
2001: Tony Gwynn (record-tying eight National League batting titles)
2001: Seattle Mariners (record-tying 116-win season)
2004: Roger Clemens (300th career win and record seven Cy Young Awards)
2005: Ichiro Suzuki (record 262 hits during 2004 season)
2006: Roberto Clemente (posthumously)
2007: Rachel Robinson (60-year anniversary of Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier)
2011: Ken Griffey Jr. (to recognize career achievements, being one of most popular players)
2013: Mariano Rivera (retired as all-time saves leader)
2014: Vin Scully (to celebrate 65 years of excellence as broadcaster)
2014: Derek Jeter (to recognize numerous postseason records, including hits, runs and total bases)
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