If Lars Nootbar does something heroic at Dodger Stadium on Wednesday night, the crowd won’t shout “Noot,” as the St.
Nutbar, who played at El Segundo High and USC, is here as an attacking force to stop the Dodgers postseason run before leaving the gate.
Every club coming from behind in a pennant race needs a little product from the unexpected. Nutbar jumped to catch Pete Alonso’s ambitious home run on September 15, giving the New York Mets a four-run lead to one, and the Cardinals’ winning streak continued, to 17.
It took them in this National League wild-card playoff game against a club that won 106 games and went 18-3 since their last two-game losing streak, which was in St.
The Dodgers rank third in baseball and the Cardinals fourth in all-time win percentage. The Dodgers have won more league pennants (25–23) but the Cardinals have won more World Series titles (11–7).
Nootbar hasn’t joined the saga yet. He was deemed not good enough to join the Cardinals’ development camp in 2020, alongside players who spent the COVID-19 season waiting for roster spots to open.
Instead, Nutbar spent time carrying equipment for an aerospace company near LAX, reporting to work before 5 a.m.
This year he came in June, went back down, came back up and hit .318 in August with .979 Ops. The average slowed in September, but the Cardinals know they have a 24-year-old outfielder who has boosted his career minor league slugging percentage from .334 to .442.
“When he has to make a diving catch, he immediately backs up and throws it to the right base,” said Nutbar’s El Segundo High coach Billy Traber. “Everything he did was spontaneous.”
He played for three years at USC and was signed by the Cardinals after he was drafted in the eighth round.
“He started putting pressure on us because he had to take us on the offensive,” said Gabe Alvarez, who was USC’s assistant coach at the time, who is now with the Detroit organization. “It hurt him in the draft, but he changed his swing and unlocked the power that was there.
“But when I think of Lars I don’t think of plays. I think of what a nice, positive guy he is. He’s not shy. He befriends everyone, wherever he goes. That’s it. Everyone in the organization is pulling for him.”
And those USC years remind Lars of the man who would shout “Noot” the loudest.
Herbert Nutbar was Lars’s great-grandfather. He contributed to the new baseball offices of the Trojans, and they are named after him. There are not that many nutbars.
“People thought it was a weird name for so long, but now they’re talking about finding a candy bar named after it, having some fun with it,” said Charlie Nutbar, Lars’ father. .
Herbert Nutbar gave a lot of money to a lot of causes. He invested in a study institute at Pepperdine Law School, and he contributed to his friend Ronald Reagan’s library. He was already established in the agricultural business when he married Dorothy, the daughter of a grain grower, in 1930. Eventually, Herbert Ralston became Purina’s co-CEO.
Dorothy died in 1982. Herbert later married Elinor, an employee of his company, and this lasted for 27 years until his death.
Have you ever driven south through Laguna Beach on PCH, and seen a house on the edge of a cliff above Three Arch Bay, close enough to the ocean to catch a wayward dolphin? This is where Herbert lived and lived and lived. Herbert died a week before Christmas in 2016, five weeks after his 108th birthday. Lars is one of his 28 great-grandchildren.
If you’re scoring, Herbert’s life began in Chicago in November 1908 and ended in 2016. He came on the front end, within about a month, during the two Cubs’ world championships.
“He was pretty strong in his 100s,” Charlie said. “He was quite a storyteller. He loved going to USC games early and greeting people. I can’t imagine how excited he would be to see Lars in a game like this.”
Of course, to reach even that, Nutbar and the Cardinals had to win a month of games like this.