Ohtani hits one out of the park, gifting a Porsche to Dodger pitcher Joe Kelly’s wife days before Christmas

New Dodger phenomenon Shohei Ohtani played Santa for a fellow player’s family Friday, gifting a new sports car to Ashley Kelly for her tongue-in-cheek campaign to lure him to the Dodgers by offering Ohtani her husband’s jersey number.

Kelly is married to relief pitcher Joe Kelly, who wore No. 17 — the same number Ohtani wore in all six years of his Major League Baseball career with the Angels, where he earned two American League MVP awards and became a two-way phenomenon as a pitcher and a slugger.

As Ohtani mulled his free agency decision earlier this month, Ashley Kelly launched a humorous social media crusade to bring the Japanese superstar to the Dodgers by assuring him that he could continue to wear No. 17 as a Dodger.

Using the hashtag #ohtake17, the former UC Riverside women’s soccer player posted a video on Instagram in which she promised Ohtani not only her husband’s jersey number, but all of the family’s gear bearing it — even the ones that also feature Joe Kelly’s image and/or name. After Ohtani signed with the team, Ashley Kelly followed up with another video, this time celebrating Ohtani’s agreeing to a 10-year, $700-million contract with the Dodgers. In it, she gleefully tosses all the No. 17 items onto the family’s front lawn while blowing them goodbye kisses.

Her campaign paid off, at least for her. On Friday night she posted a video showing her apprehensively peeking out her front door at the sports car parked in front of the Kellys’ house.

“It’s yours,” a man’s voice says, “from Shohei. He wanted to gift you a Porsche.”

Jersey numbers are semi-sacred in baseball tradition, so it’s common for new players coming to a team who want a number already worn by another player to offer that player something of value for the number. The most prominent player typically has the most leverage, and Ashley Kelly’s playful campaign acknowledged there would be no dispute over who got to wear No. 17 next season.

Ohtani may still reward Joe Kelly in other ways for handing over lucky 17. Meanwhile, the reliever who was part of the Dodgers’ 2020 world championship team will wear No. 99, which was last worn by pitcher Hyun-jin Ryu.

Times staff writer Chuck Schilken contributed to this report.