Mark Gubitza has an idea and he’s the one to make it happen. A pitcher in the 1980s and ’90s, Gubitsa was a teammate of Bo Jackson of the Kansas City Royals. He’s now a TV analyst, calling in games for Shohei Ohtani’s team, the Los Angeles Angels. His dream pre-match show was to bring the two players together.
“Bo knows the show,” Gubitza said this week by the Angels’ dugout at Yankee Stadium. “I think we can finally do that this year.”
Ohtani, the Angels’ pitching sensation, was born in the summer of 1994 as Jackson’s famous athletic career was coming to an end. Jackson ended his stint with the Angels for all teams and played his final game at the very ballpark where Ohtani is building his own two-way legend.
Jackson was, in other ways, a two-way star, being the only All-Star in baseball as an outfielder for the Royals and a professional bowler in football as a running back for the Los Angeles Raiders. Bo didn’t know how to pitch like Ohtani, but he might have.
“We used to joke, ‘Did you ever think you could close?’ “He could have thrown as easily as he did. His speed, his power, just watching what he was doing was phenomenal. The same goes for : speed, power.
“I played against Deion Sanders and he was phenomenal too, don’t get me wrong. “
Ohtani stunned the Bronx crowd in his first at-bat on Tuesday with a line drive that hit the Yankees’ bullpen at 116.7 mph. It was the third hardest hit in the majors this season.
“Nothing new for me,” said three-time Angels Most Valuable Player Mike Trout after the game, shaking his head and smiling. “That ball hit pretty well — and it’s low.”
Ohtani added a stolen base on Tuesday, hit a ball over the fence on Wednesday, and Yankees’ Aaron Judge juggled the ball home — a starting pitcher for Friday’s home game against the Royals. He started 11 straight games and allowed no more than two goals, the longest active streak in the majors.
Gubitza said the best modern comparison to Ohtani would be Jacob deGrom and Bryce Harper. He is an ace right-handed pitcher, and a left-handed hitter with good running power. The fusion of both is unprecedented. Last season, Ohtani became the first player in history to have enough at-bats to qualify for the batting title and enough innings to qualify for the title in ERA.Ohtani failed to win American League MVP again after Judges only hit 62 home runs in the season
“He wants to be the kind of person that everyone talks about forever. It’s not about ‘look at me, how good I am’, it’s just about ‘see what I can achieve. It means ‘please,'” Gubitza said. He spoke with his former teammate David Kohn about Ohtani’s incredible accomplishments.
“I talk to Connie all the time, ‘After pitching, we couldn’t even walk. Shoulders, elbows, ribs, back, butt, everything hurt. And the next day, he threw a 98 and hit a home run.’ It’s impossible for us humans to have that kind of discipline. ”
In January 1991, Gubitsa was there when Jackson nearly died after dislocating his left hip during a Raiders playoff game at the Los Angeles Coliseum. Jackson gave Gbitza a sideline pass, and it was Gbitza who found Jackson’s sons in the stands and took them to their father. .
The injury ended Jackson’s NFL career after just four seasons, but he left enough of an impression to be often considered the greatest athlete of all time. Author Jeff Perlman, who wrote the definitive Jackson biography The Last Folk Hero: The Life and Myth of Bo Jackson in 2022, believes so, and sees Ohtani as his kind of successor. there is
“Like Shohei Ohtani teeth Bo Jackson,” Perlman said. “It’s not exactly the same, but he’s doing things on a very high level that I’ve never seen before. So for me, he’s as close as any Bo Jackson I’ve ever seen.”
Perlman said their origin story bears out the similarities. Sports fans could see both phenomena from a distance, but had only a vague idea of what was really going on.
Jackson was never a mystery in 1980s Auburn, but he wasn’t everywhere yet either. He was a running back and also hit a home run, so he may or may not do both in the pros. Ohtani was often touted as a pitching-hitting star in Japan in the 2010s, but no one knew if or how well he could do both in the majors.
Fans and peers were in awe when both players exceeded expectations.
“They’re both mythical creatures in a world that doesn’t have a lot of it,” Perlman said. So we feel like we’ve seen it all, but it’s not that exciting, it’s like we’ve seen Kevin Durant hit a jumper, we’ve seen Ja Morant do a dunk. But there’s something about Ohtani doing things that no one has ever seen before that almost ignores access to everything through technology.”
There was no precedent for a player as successful in football and baseball as Jackson. And there is no precedent for a full-time hitter and pitcher like Ohtani. Even Babe Ruth has never done both full-time in the same season.
Ohtani’s Tuesday home run came on the 100th anniversary of the opening of the original Yankee Stadium, the house Ruth built, in 1923. Ohtani knew the timing, but he said he wouldn’t be making any more offers as he will be a free agent at the end of the season. More than a joke about settings.
“It’s a beautiful field, passionate fans,” Ohtani said through an interpreter. “I always look forward to playing here.”
Historically, Ohtani hasn’t hit much at Yankee Stadium. He hit .140 all-time in the Bronx despite hitting four home runs in 12 games through Thursday’s matinee. Tuesday’s stolen base was his first in New York and first of the season. The Angels are reluctant to risk hurting valuable players, but Ohtani has the speed to run like Jackson.
“Believe me, the others were fast, but no one looked or sounded as fast as Bo on the line. It was like a freight train,” Gubitza said. “Now when I’m with Shohei, I can’t even hear him. He’s got a Willie Wilson-type stride.”
Wilson was another former Royals teammate, a batting champion, and a leader in stolen bases. But when it comes to the sheer amount of elite skills, Ohtani pretty much stands alone.
“I don’t know how to throw 101 pitches and hit 115 mph from the plate,” Gubitza said. “I don’t know how you do it.”
Bo knows, or at least something like that. Now, Gubica only has him on the pre-fight show against Ohtani.