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Shohei Ohtani gear sales surge with exclusive memorabilia deal

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Add another title to Angels pitcher and designated hitter Shohei Ohtani’s resume: Fanatics exclusive athlete.

On Tuesday, Fanatics announced they signed Ohtani to a multiyear deal, in which the memorabilia company will be the exclusive distributor of his autographs, collectables and memorabilia – although that does not include baseball cards.

The 27-year-old Japanese star will sign bats, jerseys, pictures and game-used items in English and Japanese.

The terms of the contract were not disclosed.

“This is something we’ve been working towards for a while,” Fanatics executive vice president Victor Shaffer said in a statement. “[This] will be the first time fans are going to be offered a full array of [Ohtani’s] memorabilia products. The strength of his celebrity and his collectability extends well beyond the United States.”

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Ohtani – who Shaffer said was “a once-in-a-generation baseball talent” – accounted for 28 percent of 2021 All-Star Game merchandise sales, according to ESPN. Since Fanatics started selling Ohtani’s memorabilia, he has risen to the No. 1-selling baseball player, more than 10 times the No. 2 MLB player.

Shohei Ohtani inked an exclusive memorabilia deal with Fanatics this week.
AP

The 2018 AL Rookie of the Year is the highest grossing athlete on Fanatics since July 1 in memorabilia and merchandise.

“It’s an honor to join Fanatics as their latest exclusive athlete,” Ohtani said. “Their global presence and reach throughout both the United States and Japan will help provide fans everywhere access to incredible products.”

The 2021 AL MVP-favorite is leading the MLB in home runs (34) and slugging (.686), while slashing .277/.362/.686 and hitting 74 RBI. As a pitcher, Ohtani has a 3.21 ERA in 14 starts, good enough to earn the start for the AL in the 2021 MLB All-Star Game.

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Noble J. Ozogbuda

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