A St. Louis Cardinals celebration and a piece of the team’s identity has been infused into Team Japan at the start of the World Baseball Classic thanks to Lars Nootbaar.
St. Louis Cardinals, Team Japan sharing celebration of “grinding the pepper”
The St. Louis Cardinals have taken on the action of “grinding the pepper” in recent seasons, symbolizing how the team grinds out at-bats against opposing pitchers. With Nootbaar playing for Team Japan in the World Baseball Classic, it appears that one of the Cardinals traditions has officially made its way overseas as well.
Well, it’s the “grind the pepper” celebration and it’s one that even Shohei Ohtani has embraced, thrilling Cardinals fans with the thought that the soon-to-be free agent two-way superstar could even want to keep grinding the pepper in St. Louis starting next season. Sure, the Cardinals may not be on the rumored short list for Ohtani, but that can’t stop St. Louis fans from dreaming, right?
Hey, if it’s good enough for future Hall of Famers Albert Pujols and Yadier Molina, why not Ohtani?
Nootbaar kicked off the Team Japan embrace of the tradition by knocking a single in an exhibition game against the Hanshin Tigers, then turning to his teammates and making the pepper-grinding motion. From there, it became a part of the team’s fabric.
"“We wanted a little hit celebration, something to do,” Nootbaar said as a part of this article. “We didn’t really know what to come up with. And so [Shohei Ohtani] said, whatever I go out there and do first, that’s what we’re gonna roll with. So, I went out [and got a hit] in the first inning, we got the pepper grinder out there. We stuck with it.”"
And the celebration is taking over Japan as well with baseball fever rising thanks to the World Baseball Classic.
Nootbaar is playing for Team Japan in the World baseball Classic because his mother hails from Saitama, Japan, located just outside of Tokyo.