While he was not an everyday player, outfielder Gerardo Parra played a pivotal role in the Nationals' clubhouse during the 2019 season and World Series run.
And on Sunday, over 600 days after Parra last played for Washington in Game 5 of the World Series, the outfielder stepped into the batter's box at Nationals Park again for his first at-bat since rejoining the club earlier in the week after spending the first few months on the team's taxi squad.
After the game, Parra admitted that he nearly shed a few tears as he made his return to Nationals Park.
“I almost cried," Parra said. "If I compared my first at-bat in the big leagues and that one, I felt more nervous right now. My legs shook a little bit."
With the Nationals leading the Mets 3-2 in the seventh inning, Parra had the chance to make his 2021 debut by pinch-hitting for pitcher Kyle Finnegan. The 34-year-old outfielder stepped into the box with "Baby Shark" playing over the loudspeaker, the same song that became the Nationals' unofficial anthem during their World Series run, before slapping a double down the left field line.
"[I was] happy, happy to see all the fans stand up and play 'Baby Shark'. It felt like a return to 2019 again," Parra said. "I’m happy for that.”
After Parra's double, the next batter, Kyle Schwarber, belted his third home run of the game, extending the Nationals lead to three, a deficit the first-place Mets would not be able to overcome.
The Nationals would close out the Mets to take three of four from New York, continuing to play their best baseball of the season. But Sunday's game was all about Parra and his return.
"To see all the fans happy, I think it's more important that the fans, kids and everybody enjoy that moment," Parra said. "It's great to see that again."