Maybe you don’t know of Shohei Ohtani. Doubtless you do know of Babe Ruth, who arrived on the big league baseball scene in 1914 as a pitcher who could bat, and became the greatest home-run hitter the game had seen.

Ohtani, 29, is the closest thing to Ruth in modern baseball, where all-rounders are mythical creatures. He bats! He pitches! He breathes fire! Not quite. But he is almost unheard of in this strictly specialised American sport. His clunky classification as a “two-way player” didn’t exist as an official designation until 2020...

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