Dodgers host holiday party for local kids amid frenzy over Shohei Ohtani signing

Josh Haskell Image
Thursday, December 14, 2023
Dodgers host holiday party for local kids amid Ohtani frenzy
Hundreds of LAUSD students came to Dodger Stadium for a holiday party, even as much of the buzz around the facility was about Shohei Ohtani.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Six-hundred Los Angeles Unified School District students had Dodger Stadium to themselves Wednesday to celebrate the holidays and take pressure off parents who may not be able to afford presents this year.

Some special guests added to the fun including Santa Claus and Dodgers pitcher Joe Kelly, who recently signed a new one-year deal to stay with the team. Plus there was sledding in center field plaza.

"We wanted people to come in and feel like they could pick anything they wanted because a lot of the families we serve don't have the opportunity to give their children a choice," said Kelly Sawyer Patricof, the co-CEO of Baby2Baby.

Even though the focus was on the kids and the special holiday party hosted by the Dodgers and Baby2Baby, it was hard to ignore what the Dodgers accomplished over the weekend. That was the biggest free-agent contract in American sports history, signing Shohei Ohtani to a 10-year deal worth $700 million.

Kelly said he's glad to see the superstar join the Dodgers roster and Kelly is giving up his uniform number, 17, to Ohtani, who wore those digits with the Angels.

"He's one of the best hitters in the game," Kelly said. "I've faced him numerous times, couple doubles off of myself. A couple of them could have been outs, I'm not going to say any names. AJ Pollock. Every time I face Shohei it seems he knows what pitch I'm about to throw even if I'm quick pitching, doing a triple leg kick or anything like that. In the playoffs, you need a guy like that that's not afraid and wants to be the star in a big moment."

In between spending time with kids at the holiday party, Kelly spoke with local and international media gathered at the stadium about how having Shohei Ohtani on your team makes every game a playoff atmosphere. He's met with him already.

"He was already working out. Already grinding, getting bigger and stronger, his arm looked good to me. He's a good person. He said I loved the video. He told me thank you for the number. Like I said, he's a great person and we're very excited as a unit, as a staff, it's going to be a fun season."

Ohtani will be formally introduced as a Dodger on Thursday at the stadium, which is expected to be a media circus.