When Gerardo Parra was called up from Triple-A on Sunday, one of the major questions Nationals fans had was, “Will ‘Baby Shark’ return to Nats Park?”
Much to fans’ delight, Parra has kept Pinkfong’s hit as his walk-up song. Thousands of happy fans sang and clapped with shark motions when Parra headed to the plate as a pinch-hitter for pitcher Kyle Finnegan, setting the stage for Parra to hit a double in his first at-bat at Nationals Park in 602 days.
"[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 after the game. "I’m happy for that.”
Even second baseman Josh Harrison, who wasn’t on the 2019 team, joined the fun from the dugout on Sunday, smiling and making “Baby Shark” hand motions.
Parra’s hit was followed by Kyle Schwarber’s third home run of the night, putting the Nationals up 5-2 and securing a memorable victory over the first-place New York Mets.
Here’s how “Baby Shark” has brought so much joy to Washington.
May 9, 2019
Gerardo Parra signed a one-year deal with the Washington Nationals. The next day, he hit a grand slam against the Dodgers.
June 19, 2019
Looking to get out of a hitting slump, Parra changed his walk-up song to Pinkfong’s hit, “Baby Shark.”
“I wanted to put on something different,” Parra said postgame. “My [then-two-year-old daughter Aaliyah Victoria] loves that song. Before the game, I tried merengue, reggaeton, hip-hop, then I said, ‘You know what, I want to put in Baby Shark.’ I'm happy for that.”
Parra went 2-for-4 with one run and two RBI in that game against the Philadelphia Phillies. It was his first multi-hit game since June 1 and his fourth with the Nationals, and helped secure the team’s 6-2 victory.
And thus, the legend of Parra Shark began.
The team and the fans quickly embraced “Baby Shark,” and it became the new unofficial team anthem, with players using “Baby Shark” hand motions to celebrate getting on base and fans dancing along every time Parra stepped up to the plate.
Prior to changing his song, the Nationals were 33-38. Afterwards, the team went 60-31 to finish the season and clinched a playoff berth.
Parra’s part in the team’s success went beyond just his walk-up song and his performance on the field. His cheerful presence, red-tinted sunglasses, hugs and dancing brought the team together and created chemistry in the clubhouse.
Davey Martinez told reporters in October 2019 about a conversation he had had with Parra earlier in the season when the outfielder was struggling at the plate.
“I said, 'I don't care if you're 2-for-100, your job is to bring the energy every single day. That's who you are.' I said, 'You play that music loud. You pump up the guys.' I said, 'You're the guy that brings that energy every day,' and he just looked at me, and he goes, 'You're right,’" Martinez recalled.
October 14, 2019
Parra received a package of singing “Baby Shark” puppets from the manufacturer, WowWee, prior to Game 3 of the Championship Series against the St. Louis Cardinals. He hung one from the dugout fence for good luck and kept one there for the duration of postseason play. The plush shark proved to be an effective good luck charm, as the Nats went on to sweep the Cardinals in the National League Championship Series then win their first World Series title in seven games against the Houston Astros.
Parra carried the toy shark with him throughout the Nats’ parade and celebrations in 2019. Two years later, fans hope the good luck still works.