Shohei Ohtani Is Home and Focused on Baseball. Dodgers Fans Are Relieved.

The top deck of Dodger Stadium is far from the action but may have the best view in baseball. Straight ahead are the San Gabriel Mountains. During night games, as the sun goes down, the sky glows pink. Down below, the full choreography of the game is on display, offering a panoramic view shunned by the movie stars and moguls who fill the sections behind home plate.

And on Thursday morning, fans heading to those cheap seats passed a new addition to the ballpark: an eight-foot stone lantern given as a gift to the Dodgers in the 1960s by a famous Japanese sports columnist, Sotaro Suzuki, who helped draw the Dodgers to Japan for a good-will tour in 1956, two years before the team left Brooklyn for Los Angeles.

For Kimi Ego, a longtime Dodger fan, the lantern has a special meaning, and she cried when she saw it: Her father was a close friend of Suzuki’s, and for years, before her father died in 2000, he took care of the stone lantern, which was then tucked into a hillside beyond the outfield bleachers, and trimmed the plants and shrubs surrounding it.

“Tears of joy,” said Ego, a retired schoolteacher who has been coming to Dodgers game since the 1960s. “My father worked so hard maintaining the garden.”

The monument is a homage to the team’s past, and also its present.

In December, the Dodgers signed the world’s biggest baseball star, the two-way sensation Shohei Ohtani, to the richest contract in sports history, $700 million over 10 years. For good measure, the team signed another Japanese superstar, the pitcher Yoshinobu Yamamoto, for $325 million over a dozen years. It was the most lucrative contract ever for a pitcher.

On Thursday, as Los Angeles got a glimpse of its newest megastar, Ohtani’s impact was apparent before he even stepped on the field: New advertisements for Asian companies — an airline, a retail chain, yogurt drinks, skin care products — dotted the stadium. One local newscaster — in pregame coverage that began when most Angelenos were having breakfast, or stuck in traffic — compared Ohtani to Taylor Swift, saying that the Dodgers were baseball’s version of the Eras Tour. And a new addition to the stadium menu is a Japanese fried octopus fritter being promoted as one of Ohtani’s favorite dishes.

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