Shohei Ohtani meets Cameron Brink. His wife, an ex-pro player, wants to meet Sparks rookie too

Cameron Brink and Rickea Jackson smile as they throw the ceremonial first pitches at Dodger Stadium
Rookie Sparks players Cameron Brink, left, and Rickea Jackson throw the first pitch before the Dodgers’ game against the Arizona Diamondbacks on Monday at Dodger Stadium.
(Marcio Jose Sanchez / Associated Press)

Shohei Ohtani wasn’t the only person in his family excited to meet Cameron Brink. His wife also wants an introduction to the Sparks rookie.

Brink got to talk with Ohtani before she and teammate Rickea Jackson threw out the ceremonial first pitch ahead of Monday’s Dodgers-Arizona Diamondbacks game at Dodger Stadium. She got some advice from the L.A. superstar.

“He just said, ‘Just do it, you’ll be fine,’” Brink said during a pregame interview that was shown live on the DodgerVision screen at the stadium.

A highlight for Brink was meeting fellow New Balance athlete Ohtani for the first time.


“You’re tall,” the Japanese player told Brink.

“Who’s taller, me or you?” the former Stanford star asked.

“You!” Ohtani laughed.

(They are both listed at 6 foot 4).

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Ohtani also told Brink that his wife, Mamiko Tanaka, a former professional Japanese basketball player, wanted to meet her. From 2019 to 2023, the 5-foot-11 Tanaka played in the Women’s Japan Basketball League. She also represented her home country at the 2012 FIBA U17 world championships.

“I just think he’s great,” Brink told Spectrum SportsNet LA’s Kirsten Watson during a pregame interview. “I know his wife played basketball, too, so I love them. I just love everything he stands for.”

Leading up to their ceremonial first pitches, it was noted that Brink had been seen warming up her pitching arm while Jackson had not.

“Yeah, I don’t need to warm up,” Jackson said, laughing. “I’m just kidding.”

Jackson did end up getting a few warm-up throws in — but they may not have helped.

The new Sparks teammates — Brink was selected with the No. 2 overall pick in last month’s draft, while Jackson was selected two spots later — lined up side-by-side on the mound and launched their pitches simultaneously.

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Brink’s pitch was practically perfect. It went straight into the glove of Dodgers outfielder Miguel Vargas, who was squatting behind and slightly to the left of the plate.

Vargas then quickly had to dodge even farther to his left to avoid Jackson’s pitch, which was hurtling straight for his head. Dodgers pitcher Bobby Miller, who was standing to Vargas’ right and was the intended target of Jackson’s pitch, slid over and reached out to make an impressive catch.

Back on the mound, the Sparks teammates’ reaction to it all was golden.

It was all part of a whirlwind evening for Brink and Jackson, who also got to meet manager Dave Roberts and other players and were given the honor of delivering the late Vin Scully’s famous line “It’s time for Dodger baseball!” before the start of the game.


The Sparks played formidable defense, worked well as a team and showed signs they can win a lot of games despite dropping their season opener.

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Brink and Jackson will be back on the court Tuesday night, when the Sparks (0-2) host the Washington Mystics (0-3) at Long Beach State. Brink is averaging seven points, five rebounds and a team-high 3½ blocks in 22.5 minutes as a starter, while Jackson is averaging 10 points in 20 minutes off the bench.

“We’re two games in and all the attention has been overwhelming, and the love,” Brink told Watson. “So hopefully we just keep that momentum because it’s been so great.”

Jackson added: “Yeah it’s just been amazing. I feel like it’s about time, you know, that [women’s basketball is] getting the recognition. But I feel like it’s just gonna keep growing. We’re happy for the vets. They’re the ones that deserve this all.”