Parra, Baby Shark return: 'I almost cried'

June 20th, 2021

WASHINGTON -- There was never a doubt that if he was back, the song would be, too.

When was called up to the Nationals for Sunday’s series finale against the Mets, the veteran outfielder was asked a very important question: Would his walk-up song be the anthem that had become synonymous with the Nats’ 2019 World Series run?

The text he received from his family said it all: “I want to hear the ‘Baby Shark’ again, Daddy.”

“I can’t change,” Parra said. “That’s a good vibe for the team, even more special for the fans.”

In need of a backup outfielder with (right oblique strain) sidelined, the Nationals selected Parra’s contract after he had fully recovered from the right knee surgery he underwent last fall. Parra, who played for the Yomiuri Giants in the Japan Professional League in 2020, was batting .219 with 10 runs, three doubles, one triple, one home run, 12 RBIs and 19 walks in 21 games for the Nats’ Triple-A affiliate, the Rochester Red Wings.

The initial plan was to get Parra in his first Major League game since 2019 as a pinch-hitter. That opportunity presented itself following starting pitcher ’s exit in the seventh inning.

Parra’s name was announced and the Nationals’ largest crowd of the season erupted into “Baby Shark” celebration, clapping their hands to the music as he made his way to the plate.

“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 and [I was] happy, happy to see all the fans stand up and play 'Baby Shark'. It felt like a return to 2019 again. I’m happy for that.”

Parra then sent a line drive into left field and sped around the basepaths for a double. He was driven home in the next at-bat by ’s third home run of the game. Parra returned to a Nationals dugout that was feeding off his energy, just as they had done two seasons prior.

“That’s [a] playoff atmosphere when ‘Baby Shark’ comes on,” Corbin said. “You knew he was going to do something when he got up there. Just what a great teammate.”

This season, Parra had traveled with the Nationals as a member of the taxi squad, but it wasn’t the same feeling as being part of the active roster. The Nationals embrace the positivity and spark he brings to their clubhouse, a place where Parra longed to be.

“I think in baseball and in life, you have a chance every time,” he said. “I never put in my mind that I didn’t have a chance to be back here. The last year, when I signed with Japan, I said I wanted to play there, but I want to be back.”

And there he was, with over 30,000 fans greeting him in his return.