The Washington Nationals are making a historic run toward their first-ever World Series, and keeping the D.C. fans cheering in the stands is not a stadium-blasting rap or rock song, it’s the ever-popular children’s hit, “Baby Shark.”
During the NLCS Game 3 against the St. Louis Cardinals, in which the Nationals walked away with an 8-1 win, Washington outfielder Gerardo Parra prominently placed a blue baby shark on the team’s dugout net. Throughout the game, in which Stephen Strasburg had 12 strikeouts, Howie Kendrick had three doubles and three RBIs, Parra, 32, could be seen rubbing it for good luck, and Victor Robles kissed the plush toy after hitting a home run.
“Baby Shark” is not a new song, and for parents of young children, it’s probably a tune they can’t get out of their heads even if they tried. The “Baby Shark Dance” video is the fifth most-watched YouTube video in the world, more than 2.3 billion people have watched Pinkfong’s catchy tune. The song even spawned its own cereal, and broke into the Billboard Top 40 charts earlier this year.
But “Baby Shark” and its popular dance has found an unlikely resurgence in popularity at Nationals Park. Every time there’s a base hit, you can count on not just the players, but every fan in the stadium to stand up and do their “Baby Shark” base signal celebration moves. So, how did this snappy children’s song become the rallying cry for Washington’s MLB team?
Gerardo Parra Made ‘Baby Shark’ His Walk-Up Song in June & Started Hitting Like a Boss
It all started when Nationals outfielder Gerardo Parra changed his walk-up song from Sean Paul and J. Balvin’s “Contra la Pared” to “Baby Shark” on June 19, just before Washington’s doubleheader against the Philadelphia Phillies. During the first game of the divisional match-up, Parra went 2-4 with a homer, and the Nationals swept the series. By July, Parra had everyone at Nationals Park doing the “Baby Shark” dance during his walk-up.
Parra, who’s been photographed walking into the stadium wearing a “Shark Boss” t-shirt, said that even Phillies catcher J.T. Realmuto told him it was a great song. “Every catcher tells me that,” Parra said. “First basemen tell me they love it. People send me mail and tell me they love it. Everybody loves it.”
While Parra is far from the most elite player on the team — he was a late addition to the Nationals’ line-up after getting cut by the San Fransisco Giants in late spring — he’s credited for shifting the team’s energy. Parra plays “Baby Shark” on his phone in the dugout after the team wins and everyone dances.
Sean Doolittle, a Nationals relief pitcher, told reporters, “Guys are playing with energy. You see what goes on in the dugout sometimes, and I think Gerardo Parra is a big part of that. I think he brought an energy and flare, and guys are playing loose and confident right now.”
The initial reason Parra changed his walk-up song to “Baby Shark” is actually quite simple. “My baby likes it,” he told MLB.com. The Venezuelan baseball player, who has three children with wife Tania Victoria Marin Carrizo, said that his 2-year-old daughter, Aaliyah Parra, is a huge fan, and that the song makes him feel relaxed. “All the fans love it and my teammates like it. So everybody’s relaxed. It works for me,” he told the baseball news site.
A Guide to D.C.’s ‘Baby Shark’ Base Signals
While the Nationals’ dugout dance parties are always featuring new moves, there’s a specific timing to the “Baby Shark” moves. So, if you want to join in on the celebration dance, here are the easy to remember rules:
When a player hits a single: Start flashing the “Baby Shark” sign, thumb and finger pinching together repeatedly.
When a player hits a double: Go with “Mommy Shark,” left and right hand snapping together like a sideways clap.
When a player triples or homers: It’s time for “Daddy Shark,” arms extended all the way out and slapping your hands together.