Shohei Ohtani was driving across the country in his gray Jeep Cherokee. He had always wanted to drive across America and this was his chance.
It was November in the year 2024. Ohtani had just come off another MVP season. His MVP was well deserved. He had won a career best 22 games as a pitcher for the Los Angeles Angels and he had also hit 55 home runs.
This drive was giving himself a chance to relax and reflect on things. And, it would give him a look at America from another point of view. In two weeks, he was heading back to his native country of Japan where he would once again be treated even better than royalty.
Ohtani had driven for days, and he was now in Dyersville, Iowa. He could not believe how many corn stalks there were.
“Look at that! It goes on for miles and miles,” he thought. “There is nothing else.”
But, at just this moment a sign appeared on the highway, and emblazoned on it were the words, “Field of Dreams. Historic Movie Site.”
Ohtani almost screamed in excitement.
“Field of Dreams is my favorite movie! What a treat this is going to be,” he said.
So, Ohtani made the exit and drove about five miles as the signs directed him. As he pulled into the dirt driveway, he could see the farm house and the towering baseball lights. He kept driving, and the view got even more magical.
He got out of his vehicle and walked down to the field. The grass was as green as ever. The sky was as blue as can be. “This really does feel like heaven,” he said. “But I wonder where everyone is. I’ve got this whole place to myself.”
Ohtani went to home plate and took some swings with an invisible bat.
“There it is, a line drive,” he said. “It is going back. It is going way back. It is gone!”
Ohtani started rounding the bases, and had almost made it to first when something extraordinary happened. Just out of the corner of his eye he saw something come out of the giant corn stalks in right field. It looked like a man.
He closed his eyes really hard, and opened them back up. He could not believe it.
It was a man who looked exactly like Babe Ruth!
The man came walking closer to Ohtani, and the resemblance became even more striking.
“Hello, Ohtani,” the man said. “I have heard a lot about you. Some of my friends have even been saying you are a better ball player than me.”
Ohtani still did believe this was actually Babe Ruth, but he decided to play along.
“Hello, Babe Ruth san,” said Ohtani. “It is an honor to meet you.”
“Is that so,” the Babe said with a chuckle. “I have been waiting for someone like you as well. A true ball player, one who can pitch the ball as well as he can hit it.”
“So, you think you are as good as me?” the Babe said. “Well, let me tell you something I have been playing this game for much longer than you can imagine. I have seen them all, and no one has ever been better than me. I always come out on top.”
Ohtani stood there silent. He wanted to laugh, but he was also a little taken aback.
“I have no doubt that you are a great player,” Ohtani said. “Let’s just say we are both great baseball players and leave it at that.”
“Oh, no,” said the Babe. “It is time to settle this once and for all.”
Ohtani had not noticed it at the time, but a bucket full of baseballs and a couple of bats were lying on the ground next to home plate.
“Let’s have a little home run derby,” the Babe said. “I will pitch first.”
“You are on,” said Ohtani. “You will see what Japanese baseball is all about.”
Ohtani took his bat and began to loosen up.
The Babe took out a baseball from the bucket. Here are the rules, he said. “We each get 20 swings, and the player who hits the most home runs will be the winner.
“Sounds good to me,” Ohtani said as he took his stance at the plate.
Ruth’s first pitch was a slow curve ball, and Ohtani was right on top of it. The ball left Ohtani’s bat like a runaway rocket. It sailed way into the cornfield to give Ohtani a 1-0 lead.
“That was too easy,” Ohtani said. “Players from the future are just too big and strong for you.”
“Is that so? said the Babe as he stretched back and brought in a heater. Ohtani was able to make contact with this one, but was only able to foul it back.
The battle continued and each one of the Babe’s pitches seamed to get faster and faster, and each Ohtani swing seemed to get harder and harder.
When it was said and done Ohtani had hit 13 of the 20 pitches into the cornfields.
“That is as good as I can do,” he said. “You old dead guys may pitch funky, but you are crafty.”
“Thanks,” the Babe said as he picked up his bat, still a massive 36 inches long and 46 ounces heavy.
Ohtani’s put everything he had on his first pitch. A radar gun would of clocked it at more than 100 miles per hour.
This didn’t deter the babe, however. He put his foot down early and loaded his hands back.
“Smack!” The ball left Babe’s bat and kept towering towards the sky in right field. It was much higher than Ohtani’s first homer, but seemed to go just as far.
“See, there I still got it,” he said. “That’s why they call me The Great Bambino. That’s why they call me the Sultan of Swat.”
And, so it went. Ohtani would make one spectacular pitch and then the Babe would get a hold of one.”
When it was all said and done, the Babe had blasted 13 home runs.
“Looks like it is a tie,” Ohtani said. “We each hit 13 home runs. I must say you have earned my respect. I admire you even more.”
“Thanks kid,” the Babe replied. “You are the first player I have ever met that was as good as me. A lot of players can hit the ball well, and a lot of players can hit the ball well. But, only us can do them both.”
Ohtani looked down at his watch and realized it was getting late.
“Well, I sure had a great time,” he said. “I would love to come back and do it again.
The Babe smiled and looked straight into Ohtani’s eyes.
“Sure, you can come back again. People always come back, and the reason is baseball.”
David W. Healy is the sports editor of the Delta Democrat-Times. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org