Shohei Ohtani translator scandal: Big holes in Ippei Mizuhara’s resume before Ohtani
Shohei Ohtani translator scandal: Big holes in Ippei Mizuhara’s resume before Ohtani

The Shohei Ohtani translator scandal just got weirder somehow.

Last we left the Los Angeles Dodgers star, his camp accused his longtime translator Ipei Mizuhara of stealing $4.5 million to cover his illegal gambling debts, but only after he told a reporter did Ohtani agree to give him the money . Mizuhara has since been fired and MLB has launched an investigation into the matter.

The situation has naturally drawn attention to the 39-year-old Mizuhara, and the spotlight appears to be burning some holes in his resume before he met Ohtani, namely his education and past baseball experience.

UC Riverside says Ippei Mizuhara never attended the school

Before this week, it was widely reported that Mizuhara was born in Hokkaido, Japan, moved to the US at a young age, attended Diamond Bar High School in Los Angeles County and graduated from the University of California-Riverside in 2007.

It appears that the last part, which was stated as fact in the 2023 Angels Media Guide, is not true. UC Riverside told The Athletic’s Sam Bloom that there was no record of Mizuhara attending the school:

“Our university records do not indicate that a student named Ipei Mizuhara attended UC Riverside.”

UC Riverside reportedly did not respond to a question about whether Mizuhara could have attended the school under a different name, but he definitely went by the name in high school, as his high school football coach described him as a hard worker to the San Gabriel Valley Tribune last week.

The Red Sox say Ippei Mizuhara never worked out for the team

The legend of Ohtani and Mizuhara’s friendship is based on both joining the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters in 2013, Ohtani as a rookie and Mizuhara as a translator for the team’s English-speaking players.

Mizuhara was previously said to have worked his first baseball job as a translator for Boston Red Sox pitcher Hideki Okajima from 2007 to 2011.

Red Sox released a statement on Friday saying that Mizuhara never worked for them in any way:

“We are reaching out to all of you due to reports in various outlets claiming that Ipei Mizuhara worked for the Red Sox as a translator, which is false. Mizuhara was never employed by the Boston Red Sox in any capacity and was not a translator 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.”

Mizuhara apparently wasn’t that good a translator either, if you can believe it Jon Heyman of the New York Post. This makes a lot more sense now.

Ipei Mizuhara also couldn’t work for the Yankees

After the Red Sox, Angels media management stated that Mizuhara continued to translate for Okajima with the New York Yankees in 2012 spring training.

As The Athletic notes, there’s one problem with that: Okajima reportedly failed a physical with the Yankees on Feb. 17, 2012, before the start of spring training. It’s possible that Mizuhara was translating for Okajima in the time between signing the minor league contract and the start of camp, but that seems unlikely.

FILE - Ipei Mizuhara stands next to Japanese baseball star Shohei Ohtani and translates during an interview at Dodger Stadium on Feb. 3, 2024. The firing of Ohtani's interpreter by the Los Angeles Dodgers over allegations of illegal gambling has illuminated an issue for many people outside of California don't realize: Sports betting is still against the law in the nation's most populous state.  (AP Photo/Richard Vogel, file)

Ipei Mizuhara had a dream job as a translator for Shohei Ohtani. Everything collapsed. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel, File)

So what does it all mean?

We know that Mizuhara graduated from high school in 2003 and joined the Fighters in 2013, where he met Ohtani. In the 10 years in between, it was widely reported that he attended college in the US and worked out for two different MLB teams, but now there’s a gaping hole in that background. It really makes you wonder what vetting the Fighters did when they hired him.

From there, Mizuhara befriended Ohtani, went with him to the United States for the Angels, and followed him to the Dodgers. He wasn’t just a translator, he was Ohtani’s personal assistant and one of his best friends. It would be easy to blame Ohtani for getting so close to a dubious character, but the killer was only 19 when they met, in a country where respect for elders is a known cultural norm.

There are so many ways this saga could play out in the coming months as MLB and other authorities investigate, but so far it seems like every day of this scandal is making things worse for Mizuhara.

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