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'Baby Shark' Takes Hold At Nationals Park

8 hours ago
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LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

The music a baseball player picks to walk up to home plate is a careful choice. It anticipates the batter's next hit, the one that could mean victory or the one that could turn a losing game around.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "THIS IS HOW WE DO IT")

MONTELL JORDAN: (Singing) This is how we do it.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "GASOLINA")

DADDY YANKEE: (Singing in Spanish).

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "FEELING GOOD")

MICHAEL BUBLE: (Singing) It's an new day. It's a new life. It's a new life for me. And I'm feeling good.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Walk-up music is a staple of baseball culture. Recently, Gerardo Parra of the Washington Nationals mixed up that tradition with...

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BABY SHARK")

PINKFONG: (Singing) Baby shark, doo doo doo doo doo doo. Baby shark, doo doo doo doo doo doo. Baby shark, doo doo doo doo doo doo. Baby shark.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: ...The insidious, yet joyful "Baby Shark."

BLAKE FINNEY: To have "Baby Shark" come up at Nats Park has been something completely different and it's absolutely taken it by storm.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: That's Blake Finney. He writes about the Nationals for SB Nation's website, Federal Baseball. Now, to be fair, this isn't the first time a major league player has used "Baby Shark" as a walk-up song. Elvis Andrus of the Texas Rangers uses it, too, but it's really taken off at Nationals Park thanks to Gerardo Parra. He chose the song because his 2-year-old daughter loves it. Now, it's become his thing. Blake Finney says the center fielder has been quite the morale booster since he was traded to the Nats in May.

FINNEY: When he joined the team, they were down in the dumps. They were not meeting expectations. There were calls for the manager to be fired and the dugout didn't seem to have that much life.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Oh, it has a life now.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED ANNOUNCER: Gerardo Parra.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BABY SHARK")

PINKFONG: (Singing) Baby shark, doo doo doo doo doo doo.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: The dugout, the entire stadium, even the opposing team, every time its Parra's turn at the bat, few people can resist a "Baby Shark" attack.

CHRIS DENNING: Everybody in the audience, they just start clapping, and it's almost like they're anticipating it. Everybody's got their hands in like - in their shark chomping motion ready to go. And then as soon as that music starts going, they start clapping their hands together and singing along.

(SOUNDBITE OF CROWD CLAPPING)

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Chris Denning has seen this action up close at Nats Park. He could only clap with one hand because he was recording on his phone with the other. He's familiar with the song. He's the father of seven, and he's a longtime Nats fan.

DENNING: For me, I look at this and I'm kind of hopeful that this is a moment in which the fans really kind of grow together. You know, it's silly to think that it's just, you know, the song is the thing that's doing it for us.

ANNIE DINEEN: The first time I saw people doing the shark thing, I was a little bit skeptical to be completely honest.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: That's Annie Dineen. She's 28 years old, no kids, and she thought she was immune to the power of "Baby Shark."

DINEEN: But I was sitting in a section where there were, like - there must have been a summer camp. There were, like, 10 or 15, like, 4-year-olds and their faces - they were so excited. And I was like, well, OK, this is kind of fun. And then I was hooked, and now I'm an avid shark supporter.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: And Dineen, along with many other shark supporters, now considers this song a true sports anthem.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BABY SHARK")

PINKFONG: (Singing) Baby shark, doo doo doo doo doo doo. Baby shark, doo doo doo doo doo doo. Baby shark, doo doo doo doo doo doo. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.