Japanese media hilariously flames guy who caught Shohei Ohtani’s spring training HR ball

Feb 27, 2024; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers designated hitter Shohei Ohtani (17) runs
Feb 27, 2024; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers designated hitter Shohei Ohtani (17) runs / Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

No one would blame you if you're still not over Shohei Ohtani's home run in his Dodgers debut on Tuesday — we're not over it either. There's something sort of magical about when hopes, expectations, and reality all align, and the home run was the perfect intersection of all three. Ohtani could never have gone 0-3 in his debut, because he's Shohei Ohtani.

If you watch the video back, you'll see the ball narrowly miss the bullpen and land in the corner of the grass, where spectators were picnicking and on high alert for home run balls. Look a little closer, and you'll see a man in a black jersey, fully seated, reaching up to snag Ohtani's.

Japanese media (a website called Full Count, more specifically) promptly tracked that man down after the game. His name is Eric Welsh, and he's a Phoenix, AZ native who apparently isn't even a baseball fan. He was wearing a Diamondbacks hat as a nod to his local team, and said that a colleague had to tell him never to sell the ball.

Full Count went on to call Welsh a "rakkii ojisan," or "Lucky Uncle," which, put in more crass terms, could also be interpreted as "one lucky SOB."

Guy who caught Shohei Ohtani's spring training home run isn't even a baseball fan

Catching a foul or home run ball is a rare, enviable occurrence. FanGraphs did some math on the odds of catching a foul ball back in 2007, putting them at 1 in 1189. Obviously, many more balls go foul than leave the park, so those odds only jump when it comes to home runs. Everything becomes exponentially more unlikely when you narrow the math down to one specific player.

Ohtani has hit 171 home runs in his major league career (and his first with the Angels was returned to him by the fan who caught it). Throw his nine career spring training home runs on top of that, and you get only 179 people walking around in the world with Ohtani home run balls out of millions who have seen him play in person (and that doesn't even account for Zack Hample).

Welsh is definitely one lucky SOB. He said he intended to get the ball autographed during the Dodgers' next home game, and even if you're seething with jealousy right now, maybe you can find it in your heart to hope he got Ohtani's signature. At the very least, the Dodgers have probably made one more lifelong fan.