Jaime Jarrin: the remarkable storey of the Latino Vin Scully

In 1959, a 23 year-old from Ecuador began calling Dodgers games in Spanish. Nearly 60 year later he is still wielding and has helped changed the teams fanbase

They come with their leaders, they come with their babies. They come with their grandmothers and grandfathers and uncles and aunts, some of them touching rips from their gazes. They stand outside the Vin Scully Press Box at the LA Dodgers stadium on Vin Scully Avenue awaiting not for Vin Scully, known as baseballs greatest announcer, but for the Spanish language Vin Scully; the tone of their lives. And where reference is emerges from the elevator, they embrace him and ask for photos and then they pray that he never, ever leaves.

So many people they come up to me and say: My parent used to hear you, my grandfather, my grandmother … and so we started growing up together, the Dodgers Spanish conversation broadcaster Jaime Jarrn says softly. It certainly delights me to hear that.

Lost behind the year-long departing to Scully is impressive legend. Its a narration many baseball fans dont know because when they think of the Dodger they envisage exclusively of Scully, the teams narrator for practically 70 seasons and a male who announces games in such colors item he was voted into the Hall of Fame more than 30 years ago. Even as they mourn Scullys October retirement, they have barely heard of the regal 80 -year-old legend in Scullys shadow. Nor do they realize that for 58 times, billions of Southern California Latinos have had a Vin Scully of their own. And that without him the Dodger might not be the$ 2bn franchise theyve become.

I think we opened the door to some organizations to realize how important the Latino market is, Jarrn says.

And that sell matters.

In the winter of 1958 Walter OMalley moved his Brooklyn Dodgers to Los Angeles. Being a businessman he ogled all over the vast, booming metropolitan and “hes seen” opening in immigrants from Central and South America with no to better understand American boasts. He would draw them baseball devotees by is not simply broadcasting each game in English but in Spanish very. No squad had ever done something like this before, putting every activity on Spanish radio. But OMalley dreamed that someday these brand-new fans would flock to the stadium he was building on a slope above downtown LA a slope once-populated by Mexican immigrants who had been pulled from their residences in part for the ballparks construction.

The man who came to be OMalleys Spanish broadcaster just knew baseball then. He was 23 years old and had arrived three years before on a barge from Ecuador. But soon Jarrn was telling the same Dodger story as Scully, merely to an audience that didnt know Scully. And they did listen, And they did come to his ballpark on the hill, driving from neighbourhoods like Bakersfield and Fresno, several hours away, tempted by the story of a squad that Jarrn told nightly. Now nearly half of the Dodger Stadium crowd is Latino, and a little less then half of that working group speak Spanish as their first language.

In the Mexican community in Southern California, I dont know if Jaime is God-like but hes at least a notch below, says Charlie Steiner, who broadcasts Dodger competitions in English. Then he laughs. Im so lucky, Steiner sustains. I have two of the greatest broadcasters of all time to go to work with every day.

Jarrn countenances outside the Nationals Park press box on a scorching Washington afternoon watching the Dodgers take batting practice. He still travels with the Dodger, clothing every recreation on every errand. His only exception is a small vacation he takes each summer. He figures that hes gave the privilege after more than five decades. Otherwise he continues moving on the planes, moving from inn to hotel, climbing press chest staircases because he enjoys the grind of baseball and the camaraderie of being around a crew. He wants to do this for two more seasons, until he reaches his 60 th in video games before deciding if he will cut back. His wife, Bianca, who he wedded long ago back home in Ecuador continues to let him run. He predicts her he will stop the moment she questions. So far she hasnt. Maybe she understands how vital his expression is to a population that looks forward to hearing it the style LAs English-speaking fans take comfort in Scullys.

I am so blessed doing what I do, he says. I have the best seat in the house and[ am] respected by my colleagues. I respect everyone in the organization, I expect respect and they do that, I am very well paid. The main thing is: I adore what I do. Most people detest what they do.

A few years ago, Jaimes son Jorge became his broadcast collaborator. Each morning they have lunch together and share a travel to the stadium where they sit side-by-side, swapping every three innings. Jorge talks a lot about statistics and Jaime likes that. It allows him to tell legends. To him, his night exchange with Southern California is a community service. He knows his listeners. They are the working people; the ones who leave home at 6am and dont come back until after 5pm. They are tired by epoches extremity, they need a recreation and his Dodger broadcasts are their refuge.

Its a chance for me to give them something they can experience, he says. Something that can really relax them.

He incessantly concern about doing that. He is a worker extremely. For years he did radio information stories for Spanish usage terminal KWKW in Pasadena, in addition to being able to baseball, exclusively contributing it up ten years ago. He has plowed rampages and protests and chairmen. He was the only Spanish-speaking reporter to be at John F Kennedys funeral, flying to Washington that day without a credential and calling on a Latino congressman who got him a pass and a gondola within an hour. He grew the first Spanish-language journalist in Southern California to acquire a Golden Mike Award for his coverage of the 1970 Chicano Moratorium. He later triumphed another. For a few years, he was also the athletics head at Telemundo 52 in LA, generating the number of jobs up when he found he enjoyed radio more than TV. He remembers a five-year season where he worked from 4am to 1am six days a week and he speculates now how he managed to keep going.

But then Jarrn was aways a newsman. His first radio undertaking came when he was 15 reading news and writing scripts for depot HCJB The Voice of the Andes in his hometown of Quito, Ecuador. Two year later, he was the official announcer for the Ecuadoran senate. He could have had the number of jobs forever but he longed for something big. Bianca, who he wedded at 18, insisted him to examine saying she would follow wherever “hes been gone”. That possibility came when after interviewing the American consul in Quito, he told the man: I want to emigrate to the United States.

Three days later Jarrn had a visa. He bought his quotation on a barge bound for Florida, and sailed through the Panama Canal. Twice the ship was rocked by gigantic blizzards that deterred him trapped below deck for three days. He got sick. But when the craft eventually reached America the first thing “hes seen” is a huge connection spanning Tampa Bay and he contemplated: Any country that they are able improve something like this can do anythin g

He was torn about what to do in his new homeland; choosing between flight academy in New Jersey, or a radio profession in Los Angeles. He picked LA and arrived on 24 June 1955, the same day as Sandy Koufaxs big league debut. For six months he worked in a factory construction metal fencings while trying to convince KWKW to hire him. Eventually they did. Bianca connected him and by 1958, he was the depots information and boasts director, broadcasting Thursday night boxing at the Olympic Auditorium.

Dodger
Jaime Jarrn announces competitions at Dodger Stadium with his son, Jorge. Image: Stephen Dunn/ Getty Images

One day the manager called everyone into its term of office and told them OMalley required the station to call the Dodgers plays in Spanish. Jarrn, the manager said, would be one of the announcers even though he knew almost nothing bout baseball. Dont worry, the terminal administrator told him, he would have a year to learn. And so Jarrn spent that first summer of the LA Dodgers listening to their games on the radio. When the 1959 season inaugurated, he sat with his first partner Rene Cardenas in a stopgap pressbox in the LA Coliseums stands. In front of them were Nat King Cole and Frank Sinatra. He was 23 years old and a long way from writing scripts and reading report in Quito.

So as you understand, I never applied for the[ Dodgers] chore, Jarrn says with a laughter. I never looked for the number of jobs. It was widened on a silver platter.

He thought he would do it for six or seven years. Instead he never stopped, toiling all those times in Scullys world, invisible to Scullys listeners. And now he is sad that Scully will soon be gone.

Vin has been my mentor, my idol, your best friend, he says. I dont have words to say how I seem towards Vin Scully.

When Jarrn was young and new to baseball, Scully opened him two vital assignments: Prepare for every game as if it is your first and never get too close to the players .

Everything he has done as a baseball broadcaster has been build on those terms. For the first eight years the Dodgers were in Los Angeles he and Cardenas didnt travel to street activities. Instead they did re-creations from the KWKW studios. A special boundary was set up to the ballpark in New York or Chicago or wherever the Dodger were playing. An hour before video games, Scully would get on the line and granted Jarrn detailed information on the climate and the crowd and what the Dodgers players and coach-and-fours had said that day. Then when the game started, the Spanish broadcasters listened through headphones to the broadcast of Scully and his partner, Jerry Doggett, trying to repeat in Spanish what they were hearing in English.

And something excellent has come to Jarrn during all those nights listening to Scully in his headphones. He started to sound like Scully. When Scully told narrations, he told fibs. When Scully described the room the stadium seemed or how the pitcher stalked the mound, he did too. For a young man brand-new to America and even newer to baseball there was no better teacher than the announcer who would be the best. He learned events from a distance he would never have known if he had travelled to the games.

You have to realize he was restating Vins words and if you are carrying Vin Scully for eight years “youre willing to” become Vin Scully, his son, Jorge, says.

Standing now, on the balcony at Nationals Park, Jaime Jarrn gazes away, gazing out toward the field and the players finishing batting practice.

Its impossible to imitation Vin, he says. But I chose his style. He was such a big part of me. He gave me so much better confidence at my work. He gave me so many lessons that I adopted his mode. I am like him. I am not a screamer. I pray to God to give me the quality of watching what is going on with my sees , not with my heart and I try to be very impartial.

Which he has been. With certain exceptions of one player.

His name was Fernando Valenzuela and he arrived from the tiny Mexican town of Etchohuquila in September 1980, a portly left-handed pitcher, all of 19 years old who rolled his eyes heavenward each time he shed the ball. Almost nobody had ever heard of him. By the next spring, Valenzuela was the biggest event in baseball acquiring his first eight games, five by shutout. What followed was like nothing Jarrn had ever seen before or since. Spanish-speaking followers replenished Dodger Stadium on the nights Valenzuela pitched. The organist played bullfighting music and everyone shouted Ole! One darknes the status of women guided onto the field wearing a Fernando shirt and caressed the pitcher.

For the first time baseball had a transformative Latino star. None , not even Roberto Clemente, had clutched the nation the way Valenzuela did in the first weeks of the 1981 season. Every lieu the Dodgers departed they had to set up special press conferences for Valenzuela, who spoke no English. The squad involved a translator so they requested Jarrn.

It was like a dream, Jarrn says of those months. What Fernando did for baseball is amazing. I think that he is the one single player who established more baseball love than any other actor. It doesnt subject if it is Willie Mays or Roberto Clemente or Stan Musial or whatever because a thousand Mexicans, Central Americans, South Americans is relatively, exceedingly indifferent to baseball. They didnt am worried about baseball. They were large-scale on soccer and boxing thats it. But thanks to Fernando he developed so much better ebullience and formed so much interest, especially among girls, mothers and grandmothers and granddads. Everybody became Fernando adherents and later on Dodger admirers and baseball followers.

Suddenly everything changed. So numerous brand-new Spanish speakers came to Jarrns broadcasts wanting to know about this Mexican idol. His ratings proliferated. As day gone on the crowds at the ballpark changed too. Not simply did Latino devotees show up on days Fernando sloped, they came every game, buying tickets in family-sized obstructs. Then “their childrens” grown up and brought “their childrens” until the Dodgers were no longer a Fernando fad but a culture passed down through generations. The number of Latinos in the stances rose from the 8% when the Dodgers first has now come to LA and hindered germinating until today where they make up 46 -5 2% of the crowd on any dedicated day.

More parties heard Jarrns broadcasts. More people knew his mention. And in 1998 he was elected to the broadcasters wing of the Baseball Hall of Fame, just as Scully had been many years before.

He went to Cooperstown for the introduction formality, and was produced into a area simply for Hall of Famers. None else was allowed inside. Not kinfolk. Not faculty. Just the tiny few of men who had fucking awesome enough to earn the games highest reputation. There he was, Jaime Jarrn who came from Ecuador on a barge in 1955, never having realized a baseball game in his life, putting beside Stan Musial and Willie Mays.

I be recognised that because its very unique, Jarrn says. The Dodger with two Hall of Famers operating simultaneously the only organization that has two Hall of Famers. And to be near[ Scully] and near the titans of our sport…

He shakes his head. Who could have imagined?

It was destiny first of all that got him here, Jorge Jarrn says. First of all, it was destiny that got him to Los Angeles and it was fate that he got to a radio station that said: youre going to do the games, this will be good for you, you are the person to do it. That was in 1958 and hes still doing it in 2016. Thats a notebook. Thats a movie.

The preposterous storey of a young man in Quito who took a barge to America and moved millions to enjoy baseball.

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