Shohei Ohtani’s ex-interpreter Ippei Mizuhara’s past called into question after Red Sox, college revelations

Shohei Ohtani’s interpreter might have bet years ago that nobody would fact check his MLB staff biography.

If so, he was wrong.

Ippei Mizuhara, Ohtani’s best friend and now fired English-Japanese translator, allegedly stole $4.5 million from the Dodgers superstar to cover his own gambling losses.

Shohei Ohtani (r.) and former interpreter Ippei Mizuhara (l.) on March 16, 2024 in Seoul, South Korea. AFP via Getty Images

With so many unanswered questions in this scandal — namely, did Ohtani knowingly pay the illegal bookmaker to cover his friend’s debts, as Mizuhara first claimed before he was accused of stealing? — Mizhuara’s mysterious past is under scrutiny for discrepancies.

Mizuhara’s biography with the Angels — with whom he worked as Ohtani’s interpreter from 2018-23 — claims that he graduated from the University of California-Riverside in 2007.

But, as first reported by NBC Los Angeles, there is no corroborating record in the university database.

“Our university records do not show a student by the name of Ippei Mizuhara having attended UC Riverside,” a spokesman told The Athletic.

The school did not respond to The Athletic’s inquiry as to whether Mizuhara could have attended under a different name or a similar name.

The trail of questions surrounding Mizuhara, who has not yet been charged with any crimes, also stems to his alleged past MLB experience, as the interpreter for former pitcher Hideki Okajima.

Ippei Mizuhara’s biography from the Angels’ 2019 media guide. Los Angeles Angels media guide

Ippei Mizuhara (r.) walks with Shohei Ohtani (second from left) from the bullpen before an Angels game at Yankee Stadium on June 30, 2021. JUSTIN LANE/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

Multiple news reports cite that Mizuhara worked with Okajima for the Red Sox in 2010.

The Red Sox dispute that claim, and it is unclear where it began because Boston’s media guide from that season lists two other interpreters for Okajima.

What to know about Shohei Ohtani’s accusations against his former interpreter

Lawyers representing Los Angeles Dodgers star Shohei Ohtani have accused his now-former interpreter and longtime friend Ippei Mizuhara of “massive theft” in a $4.5 million bombshell.

Mizuhara, who followed the two-time AL MVP from the Angels after he signed a 10-year, $700 million deal this offseason, reportedly accrued massive gambling debts he needed to pay off.

Mizuhara first told ESPN Ohtani offered to pay off the debt and later changed his story, insisting the Japanese star was unaware of the eight-nine wire transfers made from his accounts to an alleged illegal bookmaker.

Ohtani’s camp has “disavowed” Mizuhara’s initial story, per ESPN.

He was fired shortly after the Dodgers’ season opener against the Padres in Seoul, South Korea, and Ohtani has yet to publicly address the situation, though his camp is pushing for a law enforcement investigation amid an IRS probe.

“I never bet on baseball,” Mizuhara told ESPN. “That’s 100%. I knew that rule. … We have a meeting about that in spring training.”

All sides claim Ohtani has no involvement in any gambling.


“We are reaching out to all of you because of reports in various outlets stating that Ippei Mizuhara worked for the Red Sox as an interpreter, which is incorrect,” the Red Sox said in a statement released to multiple media members, per The Athletic.

“Mizuhara was never employed by the Boston Red Sox in any capacity and was not an interpreter for Hideki Okajima during the pitcher’s time with the team. Please know that we have thoroughly checked our files to ensure we are providing accurate information.”

Ippei Mizuhara (l.) and Shohei Ohtani (r.) in the Dodgers dugout during a a game against the Padres on March 20, 2024 in Seoul, South Korea. AP

Mizuhara’s biography claims that he served as Okajima’s interpreter with the Yankees during spring training in 2012.

The problem is that Okajima was released by the Yankees on Feb. 17, 2012 — before the official start of spring training, though it is possible that he was with Okajima in the weeks prior, when players typically report to the team complex to train on their own.

MLB is investigating the situation, and the IRS has opened a criminal investigation into Mizuhara, according to The Associated Press.

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