- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Gerardo Parra is taking “Baby Shark” on an international tour.

The Yomiuri Giants, a Nippon Professional Baseball team based in Tokyo, announced that they signed Parra, ending the Venezuelan outfielder’s brief but unforgettable stay with the Washington Nationals.

Parra is the first player to depart from the World Series champions. Some Nationals players like Ryan Zimmerman had their team options declined, while others hit the free agent market — most notably Anthony Rendon and Stephen Strasburg. But all three of those examples could ostensibly be back with Washington in 2020. Parra, meanwhile, will play in Japan for the first time in his career.

Parra’s deal with Yomiuri is for one year and $2 million, the Associated Press reported, with an option for the 2021 season.

Parra, 32, joined the Nationals in May 2019 after being waived by the San Francisco Giants. He was widely credited by his teammates and manager Dave Martinez for injecting a more fun and carefree attitude to the clubhouse culture while the Nationals were coping with a dismal 19-31 start.

A few weeks after arriving in Washington, Parra wanted to change his walk-up music. He was swiping through his phone looking for a new song, and “Baby Shark” kept popping up, as his then-2-year-old daughter loved the song and often wanted her dad to play it for her.

The next time he walked up to the plate, “Baby Shark” played over the Nationals Park loudspeakers. For fans it became a craze, an icon of the team’s new fun-loving identity. Many who attended games would perform the hand motions that accompany the song; some even dressed their babies and toddlers in shark costumes. So Parra kept it the rest of the year, all the way into the World Series.

In truth, Parra was more important off the field than on it by the end of the championship run. He was used during the playoffs as a pinch-hitter, but during the regular season the two-time National League Gold Glove winner was an important fill-in in the outfield and even at first base while Washington coped with a pile of injuries.

Parra batted .250 with eight home runs and 42 RBIs for the Nationals in 89 appearances.

Now, it appears “Baby Shark” has been played at Nationals Park for the last time.

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