Jaime Jarrín, the legendary Latino voice of the Dodgers, retires

LOS ANGELES — As the simplest lady and the youngest amongst her siblings, Alicia Ayala, 53, grew up in the predominantly Latino group of Boyle Heights, sharing a different connection together with her dad, Raul, a die-hard Los Angeles Dodgers fan.

“We were Dodger blue since forever,” mentioned Ayala, who would journey in the shipment mattress of her dad’s white pickup truck to wait Dodgers video games.

At the time, she and her circle of relatives spoke completely in Spanish. The simplest manner they may apply along side video games used to be via tuning in to Jaime Jarrín’s play-by-play Spanish-language radio broadcast.

“If we were watching a baseball game, we were listening to Jaime Jarrín. It was just what we did,” Ayala mentioned. “He was always on, always.”

Jarrín, now 86, is ready to retire as the Dodgers’ Spanish-language broadcaster this yr. His ultimate pronounces will happen as the Dodgers input the postseason as one of the Major League Baseball World Series favorites with the league’s excellent general document and the franchise’s best-ever season (111 wins and 51 losses).

Jarrín’s contract used to be the first Spanish-language broadcast contract in the MLB.

Spanish language broadcaster Jaime Jarrin throws out first pitch on opening day
Jaime Jarrín threw out the first pitch to mark his closing yr on the process on April 14 at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles.John McCoy / Icon Sportswire by the use of Getty Images record

It marks the finish of a occupation for Jarrín that spanned 64 seasons and one who noticed primary demographic and cultural shifts in Los Angeles and inside the Dodgers fan base.

For Ayala, the finish of his occupation additionally symbolizes a heartfelt ultimate good-bye to her father, who died in December 2012. “In a lot of ways, hearing Jaime all this time kept me close to my dad,” she instructed NBC News in tears.

‘I am like Rocky Marciano’

Jarrín sat down at Dodger Stadium with NBC News correspondent and “Stay Tuned” co-host Gadi Schwartz to talk about his retirement, his affect on the town’s Latino neighborhood and his plans for the subsequent segment of his lifestyles.

Jarrín used to be scheduled to retire on Jaime Jarrín Day, on Oct. 1, when the Dodgers performed the Colorado Rockies at house. But his retirement used to be not on time till the finish of the postseason, in anticipation of any other a success playoff run as the group certified as the best seed in its department.

“I am like Rocky Marciano; I’m in my corner waiting for the bell to sound for the last round,” Jarrín instructed Schwartz jokingly.

During the interview and the day of his ultimate common season broadcast, Jarrín traded his conventional blazer for a Panamanian hat made in Montecristi, Ecuador, and a white observe zip-up jacket from the skilled Ecuadorian football group L.D.U. Quito — a nod to his house nation.

He used to be additionally dressed in a 1988 Dodgers World Series championship ring talented to him via his excellent pal Orel Hershiser, the former Dodgers pitcher and World Series winner.

Though the Dodgers do not have any Ecuadorian gamers, Ecuadorian flags might be noticed throughout the stadium on Oct. 1. Fans introduced them in honor of Jarrín. They know his voice and his well-known word as he chronicled the video games: “La pelota se va, se va, se va y despídala con un beso!” In English, it’s “The ball goes, going, going and say good-bye to it with a kiss!”

Building community

Jarrín is an institution and in many ways a pioneer. He’s known as the Spanish voice of the Dodgers, the Latino community’s Vin Scully.

Scully, the “voice of the Dodgers” who died in August, was the bridge for Jarrín inside the broadcast booth, as Jarrín became Scully’s bridge to reach a growing Latino fan base.

“He was a titan in my profession, but he was my close friend,” Jarrín said of Scully. “I was so blessed to be probably the person that spent more time with him, because every day here at the ballpark we used to have dinner together and on the road we were always together.”

Vin Scully and Jaime Jarrin during a pregame ceremony at Dodger Stadium
Vin Scully, left, jokes with Jaime Jarrín during a pregame ceremony inducting Jarrín into the Dodger Stadium Ring of Honor, on Sept. 2, 2018, in Los Angeles.Jayne Kamin-Oncea / Getty Images

Jarrín’s kinship extended beyond Scully to fellow broadcasters who joined him in the Spanish broadcast booth through the years. 

“I’ve spent nearly 30 years with him, ‘about half my career,’ Jaime likes to say to me,” said Pepe Yñiguez, a Spanish-language baseball broadcaster for the Dodgers who teamed up with Jarrín starting in 1999.

“We’ve shared many adventures,” Yñiguez said. “We’ve traveled on many long trips talking about how we got to this country and how we’ve navigated the experience.”

Reaching multigenerational and immigrant families

Jarrín was born in Cayambe, Ecuador, and worked as a reporter in Quito before moving to California in 1955 at age 20. He worked as a cafeteria busboy and studied English for a year before joining KWKW-AM (1330) — then the only full-time Spanish-language radio station in Los Angeles.

Within two years, he became director of the station’s news and sports department. When it was announced that the Dodgers would be moving west for the 1958 season, KWKW quickly cut a deal with the team to broadcast its games locally in Spanish, something no major league franchise had ever tried before.

Jarrín was given the role in the booth and had a short amount of time to familiarize himself with America’s pastime. He initially rebroadcast games in Spanish from Scully’s calls prior to the station despatched him on the highway.

“Many thousands of Latinos coming in from Mexico, from Central America, the Caribbean area, from South America, they didn’t care much about baseball,” Jarrín said. “Fernando Valenzuela and myself, I think we did our part to not only help the Dodgers in that regard but baseball in general.”

Jarrín estimated that Latinos now account for between 42% and 46% of all Dodgers fans. When he first started and the team occupied the L.A. Coliseum, that number was between 8% and 10%. Through the decades, the city’s population grew, and so did its Latinos, who now account for almost half of the city’s population, according to the latest census information.

Los Angeles Dodgers Jaime Jarrin broadcasting from Dodgers Stadium
Jaime Jarrín broadcasting from Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles in 1998.Keith Birmingham / MediaNews Group via Getty Images

One of the factors that brought Latinos to Dodger Stadium was the arrival of pitcher Fernando Valenzuela, a former Mexican professional baseball pitcher most remembered for his stint with the Dodgers, helping them win a World Series championship in 1981.

Jarrín stepped up to the plate and helped bridge the language barrier between Valenzuela and mainstream news media outlets. Jarrín served as Valenzuela’s interpreter, and “Fernandomania” encapsulated the city of L.A. and the country.

Fernando Valenzuela and Jaime Jarrín at a press conference in 1981
Fernando Valenzuela, left, and Jaime Jarrín at a news conference in 1981.Courtesy Los Angeles Dodgers

At his core, a traditional newsman

Even before he achieved fame as a baseball radio announcer, Jarrín’s work as a Spanish-language radio reporter earned him a place in informing his community of crucial local and national events.

“Radio was the only medium for the community to be in touch with the rest of the country. So I took advantage of that,” Jarrín said.

Jarrín recalled arriving in Washington, D.C., to cover the assassination and funeral of President John F. Kennedy. “I was 20 feet away from where the body was laying there, when Mrs. Kennedy came in with her son,” Jarrín said.

It was his first visit to the nation’s capital. He recalled arriving at a rainy and cold Washington, filled with military guards, after receiving support to access press credentials and a radio signal from California’s first Mexican American member of Congress, Rep. Edward R. Roybal.

“I went to the cathedral where the procession was coming in, described everything that was going on, and then Arlington cemetery, so I was there when the procession came in. It was a very tough assignment, but I think it is the best I have had,” Jarrín said. 

In addition to calling an estimated 10,000 to 12,000 Dodgers games, there are dozens of moments in Los Angeles history that Jarrín witnessed and reported on, including the Chicano Moratorium and the killing of journalist Ruben Salazar, presidential visits from Latin America, World Series games, and the 1984 Olympic Games.

This trust translated into some fascinating moments in his life, like being flown in a helicopter by the FBI from the KWKW parking lot to Los Angeles’ airport in 1972 after Ricardo Chavez Ortiz, a hijacker on a Frontier Airlines flight, demanded to speak with Jarrín from a place of trust and admiration.

His hard news coverage and his voice in the sports broadcast booth during some of the biggest moments in sports history — such as the final boxing match between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier III, billed as the “Thrilla in Manila” — cemented Jarrín’s place in many Latino homes.

Life post-broadcast

While Jarrín feels physically and mentally well enough to continue broadcasting for two to four more years, he said “it’s the right time for me to hang the gloves.”

After retirement, he will remain with the Dodgers as an ambassador supporting the team’s ties to the city’s Latino community. Jarrín will also help manage the Jaime & Blanca Jarrín Foundation, in hopes to allocate at least 30 to 50 scholarships worth $10,000 each every year to students.

Jaime Jarrín waves to the crowd in his final regular season game at Dodger Stadium
Jaime Jarrín waves to the crowd during his final regular season game at Dodger Stadium, in Los Angeles, on Oct. 5.Harry How / Getty Images

When it comes to honors, Jarrín’s trophy cabinet contains plenty. They include a 1988 induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame, the receipt of Ecuador’s highest nonmilitary honor, the first Latino to win California broadcasters’ Golden Mike Award, and others.

“I’m hoping they take note me as an individual who got here from South America, who got here from Ecuador at 19 years outdated with out understanding a lot of the language, however who attempted to end up himself and attempted to do one thing for the neighborhood,” he mentioned.

“Jaime Jarrín has been the first voice that I can remember as a kid,” mentioned Jose Benito Garcia, 35, of Inglewood. He’s the “perfect person to personify what the immigrants and Latinos can bring to this country.”

Follow NBC Latino on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Leave a Comment