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Let’s Talk About Shohei Ohtani’s Belt

Thanks to the kerfuffle about MLB’s new see-through pants, I’ve been spending more time than usual looking at ballplayers’ middle regions. And that’s when I noticed that Dodgers superstar Shohei Ohtani wears an unusual belt. It’s not just blue — it has a blue buckle.

I was curious to know if he’d worn a red buckle while playing with the Angels. Turns out he did, but not until last season. A bit of photo research suggests that he switched to the red buckle shortly after the start of the 2023 season:

At first I thought the colored buckles were plastic, or maybe vinyl or even leather. But then I found a really high-res photo that allowed me to see what’s really going on:

As you can see there the buckle is blue metal, nestled against a blue leather backing panel. From a distance, the colored buckle blends into the backing panel and created the illusion of a large, colored buckle. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a belt quite like that before.

The metal buckle doesn’t have to match the backing panel, as seen here on another Dodgers player:

Does anyone know who makes this type of belt?

We now return you to your regularly scheduled coverage of the Nike/MLB fiasco.

Update: Reader/commenter Brian Mengerink says that the belts appear to be these, made by a company called Core Energy. Thanks for that, Brian!

Comments (24)

    I believe the Apr 10 photo of Ohtani also shows a leather-backed buckle, but with a bare-metal finish on the buckle. The metal part also appears larger.

    Also, “switched to the red buck”

    What I noticed is that the shade of blue seems off. If you look at the other player’s belt, that color seems to be what the Dodgers have had in the past. I don’t think Ohtani’s belt will look as bad when he’s wearing a white jersey, but paired with the blue jersey it jumps out at me.

    I bought blue leather belts from a place that sold MLB pro belts thinking it would look this blue but I was disappointed that it was so much darker.

    Is it safe to assume the leather is to prevent the metal parts from hiurting the player’s belly while diving or sliding head first?

    Those new diagonal loopholes are really horrible now that I see them up close. They have a Marvel superhero quality that is OK for that universe but not for baseball.

    Those are made in Japan, so a great marketing coup to have Ohtani wear them. I guess the leather backing prevents the metal buckle from marring the leather.

    I’ve always thought it was weird that baseball players or any athlete where you’re playing a sport where you run and jump and slide would wear the same kind of belt that a lawyer or a businessman wears. They seem like a needless accessory to me. Pants have elastic now. The belt isn’t actually doing anything, and as a function over form guy I see them as superfluous.

    I thought that was the reason they were called “sansabelt”, but somebody on this site corrected me recently. Unfortunately, I can’t find the info they gave me about the name.

    Hi Paul,

    With all the questions about the uniforms — there’s a great story in the Wall Street Journal today — and the relationship between Fanatics and Nike, I was wondering about the caps. Where does New Era fit into this? Does it have a say in the designs, like with the new batting practice caps that are hit or miss? Or does Nike design all of these, and New Era is just the manufacturer?

    Appreciate your insight!

    For any uniform or uni set that Nike designs (like a City Connect uni, say), Nike designs the cap.

    Pretty sure all the BP caps and other merch-dump headwear is designed by New Era, but I’m not 100% certain of that.

    Seems similar to a bund watch strap, in which an extra flap of leather attaches to a watch strap to provide backing between the metal watch back and the skin of the wearer’s wrist. I think the story is that German military developed the Bund strap around WWI, and it was pretty widely adopted by pilots by WWII. If you’re spending hours at altitude without cabin pressurization, you really, really don’t want the bare metal of your watch to touch your skin, but you also need to have a chronometer on your wrist at all times, so the bund strap serves an important function. Seems like this similar belt flap might serve a similar function for players who slide or who might get hit by a pitch.

    Hi Paul;

    I think he wares the belt manifactured by Coreenergy (Core-Energy) in Japan.
    Eventhought he doesn’t appear on the website more than 700 NPB players use it.

    Masa Yoshida of Red Sox is one of MLB players endorses it.

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