A Japanese ramen spot is now serving 'Nootbaar Noodles'

March 16th, 2023

TOKYO -- , whose mother is from Saitama, Japan, has fulfilled a lifelong dream to play for the national team in the 2023 World Baseball Classic. And the country has embraced the Cardinals outfielder the past two weeks – cheering him on as he’s produced clutch hits and highlight-reel catches. Nootbaar jerseys have been spotted all around Tokyo Dome. Japanese teammates have taken in the Japanese-American born in El Segundo, Calif.

And now, Nootbaar has perhaps the greatest honor Japan can place on someone it adores: a Tokyo ramen shop is offering a new dish called "Nootbaar Noodles."

“I haven't heard about the Nootbaar Noodles,” Nootbaar said before Japan’s quarterfinal game against Italy. “That's pretty cool. … I’m so super thankful, obviously, for them embracing me.”

The country has also fallen in love with Nootbaar’s pepper-grinder celebration, a move nearly every Japan player now does after big plays. Pepper-grinder sales in the nation have actually increased by 15% over the past few days. Fans bring them to the ballpark or shake them at sports bars while tuned into the WBC.

“I heard about the pepper grinder; the sales have gone up since the team has been doing that,” Nootbaar said. “We actually had some of the young guys go buy a pepper grinder, so we'll probably have one in the dugout today. Spoiler. But yeah, it's been really cool to see the fans and the team kind of enjoy that. That's kind of the idea behind it.”

Having these extraneous, fun little moments within a team or with an entire country is what the Classic is all about. It’s helped someone like Nootbaar develop a connection with his new team and helped a nation fall in love with Samurai Japan.

“Obviously, I didn't know it was going to be this big,” Nootbaar admitted. “But just getting something that the team could get behind after hits and have a little camaraderie in the dugout, especially for me, because I don't speak the language that they speak -- so to kind of bridge that gap again for us, for me and the fans and the team.”