51-Year Dodger Announcer Calls Games In Spanish Most fans of baseball's Los Angeles Dodgers are familiar with legendary broadcaster Vin Scully. But the Dodgers' organization includes another Hall of Fame broadcaster. Jaime Jarrin has been calling games in Spanish for 51 years. Renee Montagne went to Dodger Stadium and talked with Jarrin, who has become a major figure in Hispanic broadcasting.
NPR logo

51-Year Dodger Announcer Calls Games In Spanish

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/106415915/106415930" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
51-Year Dodger Announcer Calls Games In Spanish

51-Year Dodger Announcer Calls Games In Spanish

51-Year Dodger Announcer Calls Games In Spanish

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/106415915/106415930" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

Most fans of baseball's Los Angeles Dodgers are familiar with legendary broadcaster Vin Scully. But the Dodgers' organization includes another Hall of Fame broadcaster. Jaime Jarrin has been calling games in Spanish for 51 years. Renee Montagne went to Dodger Stadium and talked with Jarrin, who has become a major figure in Hispanic broadcasting.

RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

We have a baseball team here in Los Angeles that has not one, but two Hall of Fame announcers. There's Vin Scully, in his 60th season. And back in 1959, Scully was joined by a counterpart, Jaime Jarrin, who became the voice of the Dodgers for Spanish-speaking fans.

Mr. JAIME JARRIN (Baseball Announcer): (Spanish spoken)

MONTAGNE: And take a listen to those R's.

Mr. JARRIN: (Spanish spoken)

MONTAGNE: Recently, we went to Dodger Stadium and started the game right there in the broadcast booth next to Jaime Jarrin.

Mr. JARRIN: (Spanish spoken)

MONTAGNE: Jarrin has a great view of the game, just over home plate. In front of him are pages of statistics. Like most baseball announcers, he keeps score with just a pencil and paper.

Mr. JARRIN: (Spanish spoken)

MONTAGNE: Jaime Jarrin started in broadcasting when he was just a teenager in Quito, Ecuador. He arrived in the U.S. the same day Sandy Koufax debuted in the big leagues: June 24th, 1955. At the time, Jarrin didn't even know who Koufax was.

Mr. JARRIN: I never saw a baseball game in my life until I came to this country. because in Quito, we don't play baseball. They play soccer.

MONTAGNE: Still, a Spanish-language station here in L.A. took a chance on a young Jarrin and gave him one year to learn baseball.

Mr. JARRIN: I was reading every newspaper, every magazine about baseball, trying to grasp the sport as much as possible. And then I used to listen in to Vin Scully and Jerry Doggett during the games, and that's how I started. I started doing a couple of innings first, then little by little I improved.

MONTAGNE: Did Vin Scully - even then well into his time as being identified as the announcer for the Dodgers - did Vin Scully help you?

Mr. JARRIN: Oh, a lot. At the beginning, we didn't travel with the team. We used to do the home games and we used to recreate the road games. And in those days, there were no TV, except the one day a week on Saturdays. So we had to translate simultaneously, listening to Vin and Jerry on the line, and we were doing the games. And he was so helpful because he knew it was a very tough job to do it. So, before the game, he usually would tell me to the lineups in advance. He would tell me facts and some information that was very, very valuable.

MONTAGNE: Basically, you were not seeing the game. You were hearing Vin Scully, who was seeing the game. Now you said simultaneous translation.

Mr. JARRIN: Exactly. We had to listen to him. We had a big reel of background noise going all the time, for two hours. So in every game, in the third inning you will hear, peanuts, peanuts, peanuts.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. JARRIN: So then we have, in those days, we have cartridges for noise. So we have a cartridge for a single, another cartridge for a double, another for a triple, another for a home run.

MONTAGNE: Now, when started out in 1959, there were 6 to 8 percent of the people in the stadium…

Mr. JARRIN: In the stadium…

MONTAGNE: …were Latinos.

Mr. JARRIN: …were Latinos. Now, it's about 38 to 40, 42 percent here in Dodger Stadium.

MONTAGNE: Was there a moment where the Latino fans just jumped up?

Mr. JARRIN: I would say that 1981 was the year that really, really created many thousands of thousands of thousands of new baseball fans, thanks to Fernando Valenzuela. The Fernando mania was something unbelievable. I would say that he is the baseball player that created more new baseball fans than any other baseball player.

MONTAGNE: Fernando mania - why was it so dramatic when Fernando Valenzuela came on the scene?

Mr. JARRIN: I think several factors. First of all, baseball was dying for a hero. Then here comes this 19-year-old kid, a little bit chubby, long hair, Indian features, couldn't speak a word of English, comes here and starts pitching like the angels. He had such a charisma.

People that were really didn't care about baseball in Mexico, Central America and South America. Because of Fernando, they became fans, and they have been great supporters of baseball. I don't think there's another segment of the population that supports baseball more than the Latinos.

MONTAGNE: Do you announce the game differently, do you think, than your English-speaking peers because you're reaching out to the populations, like all through Mexico?

Mr. JARRIN: Yeah. I am not a screamer. I am trying to be very fair with everybody. I try to keep a nice pace. But, of course, I have to prepare probably more because I am reaching Latinos and I try to give them more information regarding the Latino ballplayers and things regarding to our culture.

MONTAGNE: You're pretty famous for the way you trill your R's.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. JARRIN: Well, I…

MONTAGNE: Say my name. Renee.

Mr. JARRIN: Renee.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. JARRIN: Well, I try to respect the proper names. I don't change it. If it's a French name, it should be pronounced as a French. And I don't like when they try to Anglo-ize the Spanish names, for instance. I don't know why they say Gomez instead of Gomez, Perez instead of Perez. That's the proper way to do it.

So, I tried to do the same thing in English. I tried - I know that I have a very heavy accent, but I try to pronounce the way it should be pronounced in English.

MONTAGNE: Fifty-one seasons. Vin Scully's a little ahead of you here on this one…

Mr. JARRIN: He is.

MONTAGNE: …but the two of you are still here.

Mr. JARRIN: Sometimes I think and I don't believe it. Really, to be honest with you, I say where 50 years have gone? Because I love so much what I do, really, really. I could do two games a day very easily seven days a week. The big problem becomes the family, to leave the family alone for such long periods of time during the road trips are very tough. My wife, she deserves a medal. Blanca, thank you very much, and God bless you. But 50 years are gone, and I love what I do.

MONTAGNE: Thank you very much for joining us.

Mr. JARRIN: Very kind of you. Thank you very much.

MONTAGNE: By the way, during the first few years of that Fernando mania that Jaime Jarrin talked about, he served as Fernando Valenzuela's translator until the pitcher learned English. These days, they're still together, in the booth, with the Valenzuela doing color commentary and Jaime Jarrin, the Spanish voice of the Dodgers.

Mr. JARRIN: (Spanish spoken)

Mr. FERNANDO VALENZUELA (Baseball Announcer, Former Dodger): (Spanish spoken)

(Soundbite of music)

MONTAGNE: This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.

STEVE INSKEEP, host:

And I'm Steve Inskeep.

Copyright © 2009 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.