‘Treasure of Japan’: Shohei Ohtani glitters on the baseball diamond

He’d paid about $80 for his ticket. He wore a Japan cap above a blue Los Angeles Angels jersey. And as he enthused about the sensation that is Shohei Ohtani, baseball fan Hotaru Shiromizo was talking about far more than sports.

Mr. Shiromizu was part of the quilt of thousands of colorfully dressed fans outside the Tokyo Dome on a recent afternoon. They paced, they camped out, and they discussed their hopes of seeing Mr. Ohtani pitch – and hit – against China in Japan’s opening game in the World Baseball Classic.

“He’s a legendary player, but he’s more than just a good player,” Mr. Shiromizu said, using his translator app to help clarify a few thoughts in English. “His aspirations – his achievements – have had a positive influence on all Japanese people.”