Center fielder Lars Nootbaar of the Cardinals has been a revelation in Pools A & B of the 2023 World Baseball Classic…
Lars Nootbaar won the hearts of Japanese baseball fans at the World Baseball Classic
Because his mother is Japanese, Nootbaar has been chosen to represent Japan, and he has done a good job so far.
Although Shohei Ohtani is the player people are flocking to see, Nootbaar is quickly becoming a must-see as the Tokyo Dome has had over 40,000 fans in each of Japan’s first two games.
.@Topps Now baseball captures Lars Nootbaar’s catch for Japan in the #WBC. #stlcards pic.twitter.com/2pGzeTBpxg
— Derrick Goold (@dgoold) March 10, 2023
In the first game, Lars Nootbaar went 2 for 4 with two walks, two runs, and an RBI. In the second game, he also went 2 for 4 with two runs and an RBI. He also did a great job on defense from centerfield in each game. It helped Japan beat China 8-1 and Korea, which is their biggest rival, 13-4, putting them on top of Pool B so far.
Lars Nootbaar lays out for the catch!
📺: FS1 and the FOX Sports App pic.twitter.com/zGeyHSdPe7
— FOX Sports: MLB (@MLBONFOX) March 9, 2023
Lars Nootbaar!! GO HEAD!
Fantastic catch in CF for Japan!
📺: WBC on FS1 pic.twitter.com/yuRmobqMtR
— FOX Sports: MLB (@MLBONFOX) March 10, 2023
After being plunked in the back in the sixth inning of Japan vs. Korea, Nootbaar got into the spirit of Japan’s rivalries by staring down Korea’s Yun-sik Kim.
第2戦・韓国戦の円陣声出しは #ヌートバー 選手！
▼侍ジャパン試合速報https://t.co/GKopEqeVfS#侍ジャパン #WorldBaseballClassic pic.twitter.com/cLlF7PKBqj
— 野球日本代表 侍ジャパン 公式 (@samuraijapan_pr) March 10, 2023
Nootbaar, speaking through a translator, addressed the Japanese crowd before their game against their fiercest rivals, Korea.
“We got six games left as brothers, and as family,” he said. “Last night, first game nerves are over with. Today we play loose and we play free.”
When he thanked the crowd in Japanese after the game, the Tokyo Dome erupted in applause.
His words translated to “I love Japan. Thank you everyone.”
Lars Nootbaar has the fans fired up 🔥
Japan is 2-0 at the World Baseball Classic 🇯🇵
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) March 10, 2023
It has been a long-held dream of Nootbaar’s to play for Samurai Japan, the first team in which he was born.
Nootbaar claimed he had a childhood ambition to serve as a Japanese ambassador. Above, Nootbaar also discussed how Ohtani’s interpreter Ippei Mizuhara persuaded him to play for Japan.
Before the WBC, Nootbaar claimed he studied Japanese and learned the national anthem, which he was caught on camera singing before fights.
“I am going to try (to learn) a little bit (of Japanese),” Nootbaar said at the end of January, per The Japan Times. “Obviously, it’s going to be tough to learn a language in a month. I’m going to try my best. My mom is singing the Japanese national anthem in the house. I’m repeating it. We’re just doing the little stuff like that.”
- Lars Nootbaar has always wondered why everyone calls him Tacchan.
Members of the Samurai Japan team greeted Nootbaar while wearing T-shirts that read “Tacchan.”
Nootbaar’s middle name is Tatsuji, so Tacchan is a play off of that. The “-chan” suffix is one of affection in this derivation of Nootbaar’s middle name.