"Baby Shark," the walk-up song that may have changed the course of the 2019 MLB season, is swimming off into the sunset -- or more accurately, the Land of the Rising Sun. Free agent Gerardo Parra has signed to play in Japan.
In June, the Washington Nationals outfielder switched his walk-up song to a little YouTube ditty that kids, including his 2-year-old daughter, loved (and many parents found rather annoying). Almost immediately, Parra went on a hot streak, the Nats won 16 of 20 games to turn around what had been a dismal start to the season, and fans in D.C. began dancing along when the song was played on the Nationals Park videoboard.
A phenomenon was born. Parra's at-bats, at least his walking to the plate, became must-viewing (volume up!) as Nats fans of all shapes, sizes and ages rocked the house, many in shark hats or costumes. When the Nationals rallied to reach the playoffs -- eventually winning the World Series -- players repeatedly cited Parra and the Baby Shark craze with helping change the culture of the team, bringing a critical boost of energy and allowing players to loosen up and have some fun.
Parra's on-field role dwindled as the season went on -- he had 21 at-bats from Sept. 5 through the end of the regular season and just six at-bats in the playoffs -- and on Tuesday, the 32-year-old free agent signed a deal with the Yomiuri Giants of Japan's Central League.
Nonetheless, his impact on the Nationals' title run was indelible and his place in the hearts of Washington fans is secure, as we saw on social media.
To the man who united a clubhouse when they needed it most, got Stephen Strasburg to dance and smile, and created the baby shark phenomenon. Thank you Gerardo Parra https://t.co/8R0vCaeoDi— Deangelo Vickers (@yaboynickyv) November 20, 2019
Parra was an extremely crucial piece of the Nats World Series victory. 19-31 before he came to the team and a World Series after. Baby Shark will live on forever! https://t.co/T85t2H74Is— Ryan Kotrch (@kotrch_ryan) November 20, 2019
Strasburg signs with Phillies : "Well you know it did take him forever to get us a title and so many wilting games for years"— harpergordek (@harpergordek) November 20, 2019
Parra signs with Japan : "DON'T LEAVE US BABY SHARK MAN BRINGER OF ALL THAT IS GOOD!"