Japanese baseball player mimics Nootbaar's pepper-grinder gesture cautioned

Japanese baseball player mimics Nootbaar's pepper-grinder gesture cautioned

A high school baseball player who mimicked Lars Nootbaar's signature pepper-grinding gesture was cautioned by an umpire during a game at the National High School Baseball Invitational Tournament on Saturday.

On the opening day of the 95th edition of the prestigious tournament, Kazushi Kaneko of Miyagi Prefecture s Tohoku High School gestured to his teammates by grinding his fists together after getting on base in a first-round game against Yamanashi Prefecture's Yamanashi Gakuin High School.

The gesture of Kaneko, who had reached base on an error, was quickly rebuked by the first-base umpire as unsportsmanlike.

After players on Japan's national team began doing it at the World Baseball Classics, the pepper-grinder gesture has become a hot topic in Japan. It was started by Japansese-American outfielder Nootbaar and quickly caught on throughout the team.

Hiroshi Sato, Tohoku High School manager, took issue with the warning.

The whole country is crazy about the pepper-grinding performance, so I vigorously opposes the caution, Sato said. I want them to think about how to make baseball fun. In response, the Japan High School Baseball Federation issued a statement saying, We have requested players refrain from unnecessary performances and gestures. We understand the feelings of the players, but we hope they enjoy themselves by playing.