2:19 PM PDT, July 13, 2021
ESPN host Stephen Smith is apologizing for comments he made about MLB star Shohei Ohtani’s use of a language interpreter.
The Japanese-born Los Angeles Angels pitcher, who is leading the major leagues with 33 home runs so far this season, is being called the “New Babe Ruth.” Ohtani uses an interpreter for TV interviews, including at Monday night’s Home Run Derby, which drew criticism from Smith.
“The fact that you’ve got a foreign player that doesn’t speak English, that needs an interpreter — believe it or not I think contributes to harming the game to some degree,” Smith said.
There was immediate backlash to Smith’s comments on social media. Now, the sports commentator is backing down.
“I was wrong, period. There’s no excuse,” Smith said. “It was me. I said it, and the reality is that I was completely clueless.
“I just want to look into the camera and extend my sincere apologies that was not my intent at all,” Smith continued.
Like the legendary Ruth, Ohtani can pitch, but he’s also a power hitter. He’s the first player ever to be picked as both a pitcher and the lead-off batter at Tuesday’s All-Star game.
Ruth’s own great-grandson, Brent Stevens, tells Inside Edition that Ruth wouldn’t care that Ohtani doesn’t speak much English.
“I watched the Home Run Derby last night, and you know, all the fans that were out there rooting for him, and what he did — not what he said,” Stevens said.