More inconsistencies arise in Shohei Ohtani interpreter's personal history

Shohei Ohtani takes off for first base after an at bat in the 2024 Seoul Series between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the San Diego Padres. Ohtani and his interpreter are at the center of a gambling investigation that is being conducted by Major League Baseball.
Shohei Ohtani takes off for first base after an at bat in the 2024 Seoul Series between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the San Diego Padres. Ohtani and his interpreter are at the center of a gambling investigation that is being conducted by Major League Baseball. / Gene Wang/GettyImages

Ippei Mizuhara, the former interpreter for Shohei Ohtani, apparently has some inconsistencies in his published biography from the Angels media guide, which is under scrutiny by Major League Baseball investigators. The situation involving Mizuhara and Ohtani is being investigated as a result of $4.5 million that was wired from Ohtani's bank account directly to an account owned by Mathew Bowyer, who is being investigated by federal agents for his role in a gambling scandal.

Spokespeople for the Dodgers' star declined comment when asked if Ohtani believed the written biography submitted by Mizuhara. Mizuhara and Ohtani could not be reached for comment on the reports by The Athletic.

Mizuhara's education is at center stage, marking the initial inconsistency that was reported by NBC Los Angeles. The Los Angeles Angels media guide, for several years, has shown that Mizuhara graduated from the University of Caifornia, Riverside in 2007. Upon The Athletic checking with the University, that fact was disputed by a school spokesperson, who alleges that not only did Mizuhara not graduate from the school, but their records show that there was no one ever enrolled with his name.

""Our university records do not show a student by the name of Ippei Mizuhara having attended UCC Riverside.""

UC Riverside spokesman to The Athletic

Next, the Angels media guide also alleges that Mizuhara spent spring training in 2012 working for the New York Yankees as an interpreter for Japanese pitcher Hideki Okajima. The Athletic investigation revealed that Okajima never made it to Spring Training with the Yankees, as he failed a physical on February 17, 2012 and was subsequently released by the Yankees. Okajima could have participated in an early training session with the Yankees before he was released, however, since 2019 the Angels media guide stated that Mizuhara "served as an interpreter for Hideki Okajima during the Yankees' spring training in 2012."

Upon an independent review of The Los Angeles Angels Media Guide for the 2022 season, Call to the Pen learned that Mizuhara has a biography on page 139 and is referenced in the Guide on six different occasions. The inconsistencies are listed on page 139 in a paragraph dedicated to Mizuhara under Ohtani's biography and accolades. Mizuhra is also included in the team photograph and is in the second row.

Multiple news reports, referenced by The Athletic, further noted that Mizuhara served as Okajima's interpreter in 2010 when the pitcher was with the Boston Red Sox. This was allegedly the first foray into Major League Baseball for Mizuhara. The only problem with that assertion is that the Red Sox released a statement this week which stated, in part, that Mizuhara had never worked for the team,

""We are reaching out to all of you because of reports in various outlets stating that Ippei Mizuhara worked for the Red Sox as an interpreter, which is incorrect. Mizuhara was never employed by the Boston Red Sox in any capacity and was not an interpreter for Hideki Okajima during the pitcher's time with the team. Please know that we have thoroughly checked our files to ensure that we are providing accurate information.""

Red Sox statement through a spokesperson

However, upon searching through the Boston Globe archives from April and May 2010, the newspaper reported that the interpreter for Okajima was named Ryo Shinkawa. Further, the team's media guide lists Okajima as having two interpreters, but Mizuhara was not among the two names cited.

Mizuhara was discharged by the Dodgers on Wednesday and is no longer the team interpeter for Ohtani. The pitcher/designated hitter's representatives now allege that Mizuhara stole $4.5 million from Ohtani to pay off his gambling debts, after reportedly initially communicating that Ohtani had paid the debt as a favor.

The interpreter, when interviewed by ESPN, told the network that Ohtani agreed to pay off his debts and was present when the money was wired. The money was wired, upon information and belief, to Mathew Bowyer, an alleged bookmaker who is under investigation by federal agents.

Shortly after making that statement to ESPN, a spokesman for Ohtani disputed Mizuhara's story and informed them that Ohtani had no knowledge of any illegal gambling being conducted by Mizuhara.

The Internal Revenue Service has opened up a criminal investigation with regard to Mizuhara and Bowyer, according to reports by The Associated Press. ESPN reported that Ohtani's lawyers have filed a criminal complaint against Mizuhara. Which agency the criminal complaint was made to has not been divulged at this time.

Shohei Ohtani, Ippei Mizuhara
Mar 12, 2024; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers designated hitter Shohei Ohtani talks with his former interpreter Ippei Mizuhara. / Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Mizuhara, 39, was viewed as the superstar's friend and confidant. He was always at Ohtani's side and was the front man for the slugger.