The athlete will play next year for the Yomiuri Giants in Japan

By Rachel DeSantis
November 20, 2019 02:10 PM

The Washington Nationals’ beloved “Baby Shark” is swimming to Japan.

Gerardo Parra, the MLB star who became an integral part of the Nationals’ championship season after launching the “Baby Shark” phenomenon, has signed a contract to play baseball in Japan.

The Yomiuri Giants in Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball league announced they’d acquired Parra on Wednesday.

Parra, 32, will bid adieu to Washington, D.C., where he had become a bona fide fan favorite since joining the team in May.

He was largely credited with helping turn the Nationals’ season around in June after he started using “Baby Shark,” the children’s hit, as his walk-up song.

Parra told PEOPLE last month he actually chose the song accidentally, as it is his 2-year-old daughter Aaliyah’s favorite track, and kept popping up on his phone every time he tried to change his walk-up track.

Gerardo Parra baby shark
Credit: Patrick Semansky/AP/Shutterstock

It soon took on a life of its own, inspiring hand moves, dances and even Halloween costumes.

“I think all the kids, they’re waiting for me, so they get their bodies jumping, do the baby shark, do the daddy shark,” Parra told PEOPLE. “That’s a special moment for me, all the kids happy. I think the other more important thing is all these kids and all the fans bringing a lot of energy to us in the big moment where we need it. All those connect to the team, and I think that’s [why] we made it a championship year.”

Gerardo Parra baby shark
Gerardo Parra

The athlete even promised he’d commemorate the phenomenon with a tattoo on his arm that featured a baby shark, the World Series trophy and his signature sunglasses.

A free agent at the end of the season, Parra previously told PEOPLE he hoped he’d return to the Nationals come 2020, and that he planned on bringing “Baby Shark” with him once again.

He’s an MLB veteran, having played with the Arizona Diamondbacks, the Milwaukee Brewers, the Baltimore Orioles, the Colorado Rockies, the San Francisco Giants and the Nationals during his 10 years in the big leagues.