The Los Angeles Dodgers had quite the trump card in their successful recruitment of Shohei Ohtani.
ESPN’s Jeff Passan wrote a lengthy feature diving into the Dodgers’ pursuit of Ohtani, and revealed that the team used a secretly-recorded recruiting video from Kobe Bryant as part of their presentation to lure the star.
Bryant had recorded the video in 2017, when Ohtani first came to Major League Baseball, as a favor to the Dodgers. The team had intended to use the video as part of a closing pitch to Ohtani, but never got that far, as the two-way star was reluctant to sign with a National League team at a time when the designated hitter was still only in the American League.
The Dodgers saved the video, even after Bryant’s death in January 2020, and decided to use it when they got their chance to pitch themselves to Ohtani this time on Dec. 1. Even though the clip was only roughly a minute long, Ohtani admitted that it had definitely made an impact.
“That was one of the highlights of the whole meeting,” Ohtani said through his interpreter, Ippei Mizuhara. “I was really surprised to see it. It was a strong and touching message.”
Ohtani took another nine days to make a final decision after that meeting, but ultimately chose the Dodgers. The organization’s commitment to winning was the key factor in Ohtani’s decision, and the team being able to show off a video from a legendary competitor in Bryant could only help drive that home.