DURHAM, Connecticut -- A granddaughter of Major League Baseball legend Babe Ruth (1895-1948) expressed support for Los Angeles Angels player Shohei Ohtani's bid to succeed both as a pitcher and a batter.
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"My grandfather must be happy. He would of went and shook Ohtani's hand and say, 'Keep it up, kid,'" said Linda Ruth Tosetti, 63, the fourth daughter of Ruth's daughter Dorothy. Tosetti talked about her expectations for 23-year-old Ohtani in front of a life-size photo of 188-centimeter-tall Babe Ruth at her home.
Tosetti said Ruth has become a recent topic of conversation as a result of Ohtani's outstanding performances in the major leagues, and expressed her delight that her grandfather's legacy is continuing to live on.
Regarding Ohtani's excellent play from the beginning of the season, Tosetti said, "It is kind of early to call him 'the next Babe Ruth,'" but added that the Japanese star has the ability to succeed as a two-way player.
Tosetti said baseball "needs players like Ohtani, that makes a stir."
Tosetti, who was born after the legend died, said her mother told her how Babe Ruth loved his fans, and emphasized that that is the reason other than his play why Ruth is still beloved by baseball fans even though a century has passed since when he was an active player.
She underscored that to be like Ruth, it is important for Ohtani to love his fans. "If there is a kid standing there looking at Ohtani, if he just says, 'How you doing, slugger?' he has made a lifetime memory and that kid is never going to forget that he said hello to him."
After being transferred from the Boston Red Sox to the New York Yankees in 1920, Ruth had few opportunities to pitch.
However, Tosetti said she thinks that Ohtani can continue to work as a two-way player. "Now we have DH (designated hitter). You could be a two-way player. If he is not another Babe Ruth, he is going to be a great Ohtani," she said.
Over his career, Ruth had 94 wins as a pitcher and hit 714 homeruns. In 1918, he posted two-digit homeruns and two-digit wins. Nobody else in MLB has achieved such a feat.
(Japanese original by Hiromi Nagano, Los Angeles Bureau)