The Parra Shark is going to be big in Japan. So much for “getting the band back together” or at least completely back together.
Gerardo Parra signed on with the Yomiuri Giants of Nippon Professional Baseball.
Parra, 32, joined the Washington Nationals late last May, after the veteran outfielder was released by the San Francisco Giants.
Parra provided a spark for the 2019 World Series winners, putting up a .250/.300/.447 line with 11 doubles and eight home runs in 89 games and 204 plate appearances for the Nats, but it was in the clubhouse and dugout that the 11-year veteran really made an impact.
Parra was behind the dugout dancing in D.C. and the Parra Shark phenomenon he started when he picked the ubiquitous “Baby Shark” song as his walk-up music to make his young daughter happy.
“The Yomiuri Giants have announced an agreement to sign a contract for next season with nationals FA Parra” https://t.co/MeIcmDLC8n— Patrick Newman (@npbtracker) November 20, 2019
By the end of the season, there were 40,000+ fans in the nation’s capital chomping along with the music with their arms when Parra walked to the plate.
Nationals’ manager Davey Martinez talked during the World Series about what Parra was able to bring to the team after he signed.
“When we picked him up, I knew what kind of guy he was,” Martinez explained. “I talked to [Bullpen Coach] Henry [Blanco]. Henry played with him. Henry was his teammate, Blanco, and I told him, I said, ‘Look, we’re going to get Parra. I know what kind of clubhouse guy he is. Tell me what you think?’ He says, ‘You want him.’ I said, he’s a heck of a player, but he’ll keep that clubhouse loose. I said, well, we’re going to get him, and I need him.
“Yeah, we needed him at that point. He’s just another veteran guy, a left-handed bat, can play first, outfield positions. But what he’s meant to this team outside of just -- regardless of playing, what he’s done in that clubhouse has really changed the way these guys go about their business. I mean, it was business. There wasn’t a whole lot of -- he made it fun for this team.”
That ability to keep things loose and help the rest of the team have fun might have been the biggest contribution Parra made.
“There was a point in time where he was struggling real bad,” Martinez explained. “He was like 2 for 30, and it was kind of -- everything was kind of down a little bit.
“I didn’t feel that energy, and I brought him in the office, and I said, ‘Hey, what’s going on?’ And he goes, ‘Oh, you know, I’m not hitting. I’m not helping the team.”
“I go, ‘No, no, no.’ I said, ‘I don’t care if you’re 2 for 100, your job is to bring the energy every single day. That’s who you are.’ I said, you play that music loud. You pump up the guys. I said, ‘You’re the guy that brings that energy every day,’ and he just looked at me, and he goes, ‘You’re right.’ He said, ‘I’m not doing my job. I said, well, go do your job.’
“Needless to say, after that, he started hitting again, and he came back to my office a few days later, and he goes, ‘Hey, thank you. I didn’t realize that I need to have fun too, not worry about...’ -- I said, yeah, ‘Hey, bring it every day. I told you, for me, 0 for 4s, 0 for 5s don’t really bother me. It’s what you bring on and off the field that I care about,’ and he’s that guy.
“Those guys up there, every one of his teammates love him, love him. All the fans love him. He’s just that guy. He’s the Parra Shark.”
The Yomiuri Giants and their fans will probably love the Parra Shark too...
“I am proud to be a member of the Yomiuri Giant Army with history and tradition,” Parra said in a press release by the Giants.
“Playing at a high level of professional baseball in Japan is an opportunity to improve my ability. I’m going to devote all of my experience and knowledge to the Giant Army, and for the fans, always try to play [energetically] for the team and contribute to the team’s victory.”