A respectable but undistinguished Japanese starter and reliever, Ohta became a celebrity overnight by pitching brilliantly in the nationally televised high school playoffs. The blue-eyed son of Russian and Japanese parents became a teen idol. Upon turning pro, he led all players in fan voting for the all-star team six years in a row. His first year, he was elected despite a 1-4 record; his second year, he was elected while in the minor leagues. Yet fellow players apparently never held this popularity against him. When he finally earned selection on merit, he was considered vindicated.