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Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Nootbaar is starting to be a household name in Japan

NOOTBAAR-JAPAN ( Associated Press)

Weeks before the World Classics began, most Japanese couldn’t recognize Lars Nootbaar. Few could pronounce the name.

But he has become a household name in Japan as fans cheer for the St. Louis Cardinals outfield at the Tokyo Dome, where he went 5-for-11 with two RBIs to lead Japan to a 3-0 lead.

Nootbaar’s spontaneous songs resemble the Samurai and refer to him by the middle name Tatsuji—which is his grandfather’s name. He plays in Japan because of his mother’s roots and is the first non-Japanese player to represent his country because of his ancestors.

A hundred men came now with a firm supply of pepper-mills, which had been his business with the cardinals. Fans hold Nootbaar signs as “American’s first-born Samurai” and his teammates call him “Tachan.”

Cardinals teammate Tommy Edman plays in Tokyo with South Korea also because of his mother’s roots, they share similar experiences, unless Japan wins. South Korea lost the first two games.

“It’s definitely different to have the letter of the district in the chest,” Edman acknowledged.

Angels star Shohei Ohtani is still the most famous player in Japan, but Nootbaar said “he has great talent and personality, so don’t worry about him.” The more the fans scream, the more intense it will be.”

Nootbaar is obviously stunned with Ohtani and repeats the same phrase.

“I’m not like you guys,” Nootbaar said. “I think of myself as a fan who wants to see. I’m lucky to have a front row seat.”

The fans started chanting “Noot-Noot-Noot” and now the favorite in the Japanese team, which includes Yu Darivsh and Roki Sasaki, has wrapped Japan’s top prospect.

“Being at the Tokyo Dome in Japan for the first time – a surreal experience,” added Nootbaar.

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He said he was first contacted on Instagram by Ohtani’s interpreter Ippei Mizuhara about participating in the World Classic.

“It started on Instagram, like many relationships today. That’s how everything starts,” he said.

For him and his family, playing with the team in Japan is “pure joy.”

“They are proud,” he said. “It’s amazing to be able to do it for them. I don’t talk to them often, I don’t see them often. Being able to connect with my family in different parts of the world is special.”

World Nation News Desk
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