On November 16th, Shohei Ohtani of the US Major League Baseball Angels won the MLB American League MVP award by a unanimous vote. Otani player isThe company has announced that it will donate 60,000 gloves to all elementary schools in Japan. Sports writer Akira Hiroo said, “The Japanese baseball world needs to seriously think about how to use this glove.If it continues as it is, it will just become a souvenir.”
Photo = Sipa USA/Jiji Press Photo
September 30, 2023: Los Angeles Angels two-way player Shohei Ohtani (center), who was named team MVP for the third consecutive year at Angel Stadium, Anaheim, California
A gift worth an estimated 600 million yen from Shohei Otani
The timing was perfect. Shohei Ohtani, who became a free agent from the Angels this season, announced on November 8 that he would donate three gloves to each elementary school in Japan. The announcement came at a time when baseball fans had calmed down after the Japan Series and the World Series in the United States.
The distribution will include national, public, and private elementary schools, as well as special needs schools. According to the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, in 2025, there were 67 national elementary schools, 18,668 public schools, 244 private schools, and 1,013 special needs schools. There are a total of 19,992 schools.
Three junior gloves (two for right and one for left) will be sent to each school. The number is approximately 60,000. According to the Tokyo Sports website published on the 14th, gloves will not be donated if the school does not wish to do so.
The glove donated by Shohei Otani is not just a “decoration”! “We want you to use it until it falls apart,” said a representative (November 14, 2023, 16:30 East Sports Web)
Soft-ball gloves for children start at around 2,000 yen. The most expensive one is around 10,000 yen. Otani’s gift is thought to have cost up to 600 million yen. For Otani, who will earn an annual salary of 30 million dollars (approximately 4.5 billion yen, rate at the time, same below) this season, and will earn an annual salary of more than 500 million dollars (approximately 75 billion yen) for 10 years when he transfers to free agency next season, It’s not a small amount.
Possibility of drastic changes in the glove market
The first thing that struck me was how huge the present was.
Last year, there were 110,756 elementary school students nationwide who joined youth sports teams and played softball baseball (4th grade and above, 9032 girls and 101,724 boys), although there are some teams that did not join youth sports teams. The 60,000 gloves will be given to about half of the elementary school students who play baseball.
In the past, there were many elementary school students who played baseball with their friends in vacant lots without joining boys’ clubs. The market for junior gloves, including those, was much larger. Nowadays, such elementary school students are almost extinct, so the market is shrinking.
Under such circumstances, domestic glove manufacturers will be greatly affected by the distribution of 60,000 gloves for free.
Shohei Otani was using ASICS gloves until 2022, but has signed a contract with New Balance from this year. New Balance did not make gloves, but they made one after signing a contract with Otani. We decided to distribute the miniature version this time.
Otani also switched from Asics to bats made by Chandler in the US this season, and it has been reported that sales of Chandler bats in Japan are rapidly increasing.
New Balance is not currently considering selling gloves, but it seems they have plans for the future. If that’s the case, this glove donation can be said to be extremely effective marketing to the Japanese market.