An effort to honor his mother's heritage and play for Team Japan in the World Baseball Classic has led to Lars Nootbaar becoming a global sensation.
Lars Nootbaar's name was familiar to fans of the St. Louis Cardinals and opponents who fell victim to his pepper grinder and the winning spirit it brings. But after playing centerfield for Team Japan in the World Baseball Classic and creating some memorable moments, "Noooooot!" has gone global.
In his first four games for Team Japan, Nootbaar has had six hits, seven runs, three RBI, four walks, and two stolen bases. And he's made some outstanding plays in centerfield.
And did you notice who he's developed quite the friendship with? Another global sensation - Shohei Ohtani. This new friendship has Cardinal fans hoping Nootbaar could convince Ohtani to join the Cardinals and continue their winning ways.
Nootbaar's speech before Team Japan's second pool play game is fantastic and shows how popular he has become with his teammates and how they have bonded to form a brotherhood that has thus far made Team Japan unbeatable.
Team Japan finished pool play going 4-0 and will head into quarterfinal play which begins later this week in Tokoyo. The semifinals and finals will be played in Miami.
Nootbaar said he's felt at home playing in Tokoyo and has seemingly embraced his newly found, worldwide popularity with the laidback, easygoing personality Cardinals fans have become accustomed to since he joined St. Louis.
Nootbaar's legend will undoubtedly grow over the next week as Team Japan's journey continues. It will be fun to see how his legend will grow as well as his new fans will embrace him. The crowd included several fans with the Cardinal's powder blue Saturday away jersey. While Ohtani has several media members from Japan following him, it will be fun to see if and how they will cover Noot for his new fanbase.
This is incredibly exciting for Nootbaar. It will be fun to see how he carries his newly found worldwide status into the summer. Fans must invest in pepper grinders as Noot continues to grind out that winning spirit. The sounds of "Nooooot!" will be a little louder this summer.