WASHINGTON – When Víctor Robles crossed home plate following his home run Monday night, he tipped his batting helmet to the crowd, took part in a dugout dance party and then kissed a stuffed shark.
The tip of the batting helmet was for his mother, Marcia Brito, who attended her first game in the big leagues. The dance party was for his teammates and the shark was for good luck.
“It was something that when someone works for success and when the success comes, it surprises you,” Robles said. “I feel very excited. Thank you to God.”
Up until Monday night, Brito had never seen her son play in the United States. A constant supporter, she followed her son throughout his childhood and last watched him on the big stage in the Dominican Republic’s winter leagues playing for the Aguilas Cibaenas of Santiago.
When Robles tipped his cap to her, it was his way of thanking her.
“I felt excited to have her there and I gave the home run to her,” Robles said.
He added, “I feel very supported. As I have always said, I play this game in part for Christ, my Father. Thank you for that. It was something beautiful.”
A week ago, the thought of Robles playing in the National League Championship Series was a long shot. The 22-year-old injured his right hamstring legging out a sacrifice bunt during Game 2 of the Division Series.
An MRI revealed a mild strain, keeping him from the final three games of the NLDS and the first two games of the NLCS.
“When I hurt myself, [Dave Martinez] asked if I could continue,” Robles recalled. “I knew that I couldn’t give my 100 percent. I knew that I wouldn’t be able to help the team.”
Knowing this, he was removed and held out in the games following. Robles leaned on his faith to help guide himself through the recovery process.
“I focused on recuperating myself to 100 percent and thanks to God, I am able to help the team,” he said.
In addition to his sixth-inning solo shot, Robles also had the Nationals’ first hit and scored the team’s first run in an 8-1 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals.
In total, Robles went 2-for-4 at the plate along with several putouts in the outfield. Kissing the shark attached to the Nationals’ home dugout was his way of thanking it for the luck it provided.
“It gives us luck.,” Robles said. “That’s why I gave the shark a kiss. It keeps things lively (animado). It keeps us united in everything.”
The shark is the byproduct of outfielder Gerardo Parra, who came to the Nationals after being designated for assignment by the San Francisco Giants. Parra, who has young children of his own, uses “Baby Shark” as his walkup music.
The catchy children’s song has since become a sensation with both fans and teammates taking part in the dance routine.
“The baby shark is for all of my teammates,” Parra said. “Everybody here enjoys it. It brings a lot of good energy. That’s why we do it, [to] bring a lot of emotion.”
When asked if the shark could also represent many of his younger teammates like Robles, Parra agreed.
“That’s a good point,” he said. “It brings a lot of positive energy and a lot of good points, and we take it.”
It’s no doubt that Robles’ sweet swing and infectious energy were missed by his teammates. However, if you ask them the bat and the smile is nothing new. Rather, it’s been his trademark all year.
“He’s been doing that the whole season,” Juan Soto said. “So, I just feel really happy for him. He came back from the injury. He’s good, he looks healthy. He brings all the energy we need to help the team.”
Featured Image: Patrick Smith / Getty Images Sport