WASHINGTON– On a regular Tuesday night at the ballpark where Trea Turner hit for the cycle, Gerardo Parra of all people, stole the show. 22,612 people stood up during Gerardo Parra’s 7th inning pinch-hit at-bat and did something we never thought would happen before the season started… or even two weeks go.
Parra’s current walk-up song is a popular children’s song, Baby Shark, in case you haven’t heard. Nationals fans and Nationals players, all in a synchronized fashion, clapped their hands together to make a shark shape during Parra’s walkup to the plate and once again after he singled and drove two runners home.
The at-bat and Parra’s eventual two RBI single proved that baseball is fun once again on South Capitol Street. It seems as if Nationals fans haven’t been this much into ball games as they were since 2012. Ever since their rock bottom start, something just feels different about this year and it all started with the signing of Gerardo Parra.
Although the Nationals didn’t start their comeback until 15 or so days after Parra was signed on May 9, he has undoubtedly seemed like the biggest clubhouse presence and leader since the Nationals signed him.
Parra’s season started out the same way the Nationals did: hitting rock bottom. Parra was only able to generate minimal interest during the offseason after a good season with the Rockies that saw him slash .284/.342/.372. Parra signed a minor league contract with the Giants just days before spring training began.
Parra then made the Giants’ Opening Day roster but struggled mightily slashing .198/.278/.267 in just 30 games. On May 3 the Giants had seen enough and designated him for assignment and released him on May 7 which allowed the Nationals to scoop him up on a one-year deal.
In his first start with the ballclub, Parra instantly gave the Nationals a boost on May 11, just two days after he signed. The Nationals offense had been scuffling, failing to score a run through seven innings. With the bases loaded, Parra hit a go-ahead grand slam to cap a five run eighth inning that put Washington up 5-2 where the score remained the same for the rest of the game.
Since, Parra has become the light of the Nationals clubhouse, often seen sporting pink sunglasses while on the bench with his buddy Anibal Sanchez who wears the matching yellow pair. Parra also introduced the Nationals to their signature dugout dance/conga line, something the Nationals do after a player hits a homerun.
“I’m happy everyday,” Parra told The Associated Press two weeks ago. “The people right now just enjoy the moment.”
Since coming over the Nationals, Parra has become a big part of the Nationals success on and off the field slashing .267/.305/.467. In 43 games, Parra has four homers, 18 RBIs and six doubles.
About a month ago, Parra changed his walk-up song to “Baby Shark.” Citing that his daughter was the inspiration for the change.
“I wanted to put on something different,” Parra told NBC Sports Washington after a 6-2 win over the Phillies. “My two-year-old daughter 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.”
Since changing his walk-up song to Baby Shark, Parra has appeared in 18 games (14 as a pinch-hitter). Parra has gone 10-for-28 (.357) and added a homer, six RBIs and a double.
The Nationals could also attribute Parra’s taste in music to their record (kidding obviously) but since Parra changed his walkup song on June 19 before a double header against the Phillies the Nationals are an astonishing 20-8.
Parra has proved that baseball is fun once again in Washington and that proves evident when grown men and women are clapping their shark arms to the beat of a children’s song.
Parra’s signing in May came at just the right time. Now him and the Nationals are surging towards October.