UC Riverside: No Record of Ex-Shohei Ohtani Interpreter Attending UCR

Connor Forbes
Connor Forbes
7 Min Read
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UC Riverside

RIVERSIDE (CNS) – UC Riverside is denying that Shohei Ohtani’s former interpreter Ippei Mizuhara attended the school, as Mizuhara claimed in his publicly distributed resume — in one of multiple questions raised about the recently fired Mizuhara’s credentials.

A story published in The Athletic quoted a university spokesperson saying the school’s “records do not show a student by the name of Ippei Mizuhara having attended UC Riverside.” That denial was first reported by NBC4 on March 21.

Mizuhara’s bio said he graduated from UC Riverside in 2007.

The Athletic article also questioned whether Mizuhara actually spent spring training in 2012 working for the New York Yankees as an interpreter for Japanese pitcher Hideki Okajima, as claimed in the Angels media guides when Ohtani played for the Angels.

According to multiple news reports, Okajima failed a physical on Feb. 17, 2012, before spring training, and was released by the Yankees.

The Boston Red Sox also released a statement insisting that Mizuhara never worked for the team, disputing news reports that Mizuhara was Okajima’s interpreter with Boston in 2010.

Mizuhara could not be reached for comment.

Major League Baseball has opened a formal investigation after Mizuhara was fired by the Dodgers amid allegations he stole millions of dollars from the Japanese slugger to place bets with a purported illegal bookmaker.

“Major League Baseball has been gathering information since we learned about the allegations involving Shohei Ohtani and Ippei Mizuhara from the news media,” the league said in a statement Friday. “Earlier today, our Department of Investigations (DOI) began their formal process investigating the matter.”

The story first broke Wednesday, when the Dodgers fired Mizuhara while the team was in Seoul, South Korea for a season-opening two-game series against the San Diego Padres.

According to ESPN, MLB is expected to request interviews with all parties, including Ohtani and Mizuhara. But the sports network said MLB cannot compel Mizuhara to cooperate since he no longer is employed by the league. Ohtani can also decline to cooperate as a member of the MLB Players Association, the report said.

While Ohtani himself has not addressed the situation publicly since the story broke, his attorneys, responding to inquiries from the Los Angeles Times, told the paper in a statement Wednesday, “In the course of responding to recent media inquiries, we discovered that Shohei has been the victim of a massive theft and we are turning the matter over to the authorities.”

According to The Times, the paper made inquiries about the matter after learning that Ohtani’s name had surfaced in a federal investigation of Orange County resident and alleged illegal bookmaker Mathew Bowyer.

Sources told the paper that Mizuhara had allegedly stolen money from the Dodgers star to place bets, and the amount of money involved was in the millions of dollars.

ESPN reported Wednesday there had been at least $4.5 million in wire transfers from Ohtani’s bank account to the bookmaking operation. A spokesman for Ohtani initially told ESPN that Ohtani had transferred the money to cover Mizuhara’s gambling debts.

Bowyer’s attorney, Diane Bass, told The Times and ESPN that he has never met or spoken with Ohtani. A source told ESPN that Bowyer was aware Ohtani’s name was on the wire transfers, but he didn’t ask any questions as long as the money was coming in.

Bowyer’s San Juan Capistrano home was searched by federal agents last year.

According to ESPN, Mizuhara gave the network a 90-minute interview Tuesday night in which he laid out his side of the story — an interview arranged by an Ohtani spokesman. But after the interview, the same spokesman disavowed Mizuhara’s account and said a statement would be made instead by Ohtani’s attorneys, which happened Wednesday alleging the “massive theft.”

During the ESPN interview, Mizuhara, 39, said he asked Ohtani last year to pay off his gambling debts, and Ohtani, while unhappy about it, agreed to do so. Mizuhara told the network that Ohtani had no involvement in any betting, and the interpreter insisted that he didn’t realize his betting activities were illegal in California. He also said he never bet on any baseball games.

On Wednesday, however, Mizuhara recanted his comments, telling ESPN that Ohtani had no knowledge of his gambling debts and denying that Ohtani had transferred any money to the bookmaking operation.

A Dodgers spokesperson told ESPN that Mizuhara spoke in the team clubhouse after its season-opening game in Korea on Wednesday morning, taking all blame for a story that was about to become public and admitting he has a gambling addiction.

According to The Times and ESPN, the investigation into Bowyer, who has not been charged with a crime, involves the same prosecutors who investigated an Orange County-based gambling ring led by Wayne Nix, 46, a former minor league baseball player from Newport Coast. Nix pleaded guilty to a federal charge of helping operate an illegal sports gambling business. A sentencing date has not been set.

Nix’s longtime partner in the gambling operation, Edon Kagasoff, 45, of Lake Forest, pleaded guilty in April 2022 to one count of conspiracy to operate an illegal gambling business and was sentenced last year to six months of probation and a $1,000 fine. He was also ordered to forfeit $3.1 million he earned through the operation.

That investigation also ensnared former Dodgers slugger Yasiel Puig, who is facing one federal count each of making false statements and obstruction of justice. He initially agreed to plead guilty but later changed his mind. A trial date has not been set.

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UC Riverside. Shohei Ohtani and Ippei Mizuhara
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