On August 31, Brian Cashman, the general manager of the New York Yankees, and several other notable personnel from other Major League Baseball clubs were in Sapporo to see right-hander Shohei Otani pitch for the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters at Sapporo Dome.
Dubbed by media outlets in the U.S. as “Japan’s Babe Ruth” for his ability to hit as well as pitch, Otani is shaping into the next player from Japan to be targeted by MLB clubs.
On the field scrutiny is one thing. But if weekly tabloid Shukan Post (Sept. 15) is anything to go by Otani’s playing around off the field is also of concern — especially for his current club, which would reap a windfall in sending him .
According to the magazine, rumors recently started circulating about a card signed by Otani that appears in the entrance of a soapland bathhouse in Omiya City, Saitama Prefecture.
In an effort to verify the speculation, the magazine dispatched a reporter to the soapland, a facility where customers are afforded a rub down and full sex as dispensed by an awa hime, or foam princess.
To the astonishment of the reporter, no such signature card could be found upon arrival. An employee then calmly explained, “Several days ago, [the card] as written by Otani was there.”
The employee added that various “circumstances” led to its removal. “The owner [of the soapland] is a big fan of Otani,” the source continued. “He received it from an acquaintance. It doesn’t mean that Otani actually visited this soapland.”
In an effort to better understand what “circumstances” could have led to the card’s removal, the weekly contacted the Fighters. “We requested that misleading postings stop and urged caution about things with similar content in future,” a representative of the club said.
Shukan Post chalks the incident up to being part of the price of fame for Otani.
Source: “Otani Shohei fuzoku-ten ni jikihitsu sain sodo de kyudan ga hikeshi ni honso,” Shukan Post (Sept. 15, page 131)