At the start of 1955, the Dodgers were based in Brooklyn, and Jaime Jarrín was a reporter in his native Ecuador, covering the National Congress.
Four years later, the Dodgers had moved to Los Angeles, and Jarrín was broadcasting their games on the radio.
Jarrín arrived in Los Angeles on a permanent resident visa that June and worked in a factory until a part-time job opened up at the city's only Spanish radio station, KWKW. He made fast progress, and by the time the Dodgers moved to Los Angeles in 1958, Jarrín was KWKW's news and sports director.
They didn't play much baseball in Quito, but Jarrín had become a fan of the sport in California, going to see the minor league Hollywood Stars and Los Angeles Angels. Still, when KWKW's owner, William Beaton, announced that the L.A.-bound Dodgers had made a deal to broadcast their games in Spanish, Jarrín didn't consider himself an automatic choice. But by the following year, he was in.
More than six decades later (including a streak of more than 4,000 consecutive games from 1962 to 1984), four decades after helping introduce the world to Mexican pitching ace Fernando Valenzuela, three decades after a life-threatening 1990 car accident and two decades after the Baseball Hall of Fame honored him with the 1998 Ford C. Frick Award for broadcasters, the beloved Jarrín was still broadcasting Dodgers baseball for his fans.
Fernandomania introduced Jarrín to an English-speaking audience not only in Los Angeles but across the country, as he served as the phenom's translator. "On the days he would pitch I would leave my partner Rudy Hoyos alone in the booth and come down to be with Fernando, and that's where it started," he told Michael Green of Sports Broadcast Journal. "He had a terrific year and I was with him everywhere. He and I would have to go one day in advance to the next city to accommodate the press, so we became like brothers, very close. And because of that, I became well known in all of the cities, and that was a big thing in my career."
But Jarrín bonded with more than the Spanish-speaking Dodgers. Centerfielder Willie Davis guided Jarrín in 1959 when he began his career, and just before embarking upon his most memorable season of 1988, pitcher Orel Hershiser comforted Jarrín over the loss of his son Jimmy to a brain aneurysm.
"He was very special when I was feeling very low, because losing a son is something that you can't describe," Jarrín told Green. "It's the most brutal blow you can get and he was there with me, and since that day he has been very special to me."
In 1998, Jarrín was not only honored in Cooperstown by the Baseball Hall of Fame but was also given the highest award from the National Assn. of Hispanic Journalists.
In 2015, Jarrín's oldest son, Jorge, joined him to form a father-son broadcast team for the Dodgers on KTNQ, a
Throughout his entire 65-year marriage to his wife, Blanca, he had spent every baseball season on the road. It was time to stay home.
Shockingly, Blanca died from a heart attack in a hotel room with Jaime during spring training.
"It wasn't supposed to happen like this," Jarrín told Bill Plaschke of the Los Angeles Times. "It seems so unfair."
Jarrín reversed his plans and continued his career full time, and though the pandemic kept him at Dodger Stadium while the 2020 World Series took place in Texas, he had the call of Julio Urías' final pitch.
"Everyone standing in the stadium already in Texas, with their cameras ready," Jarrín said in Spanish. "And the Dodgers are finally the masters of Major League Baseball after 32 years."
Jon Weisman, a former Variety editor and Dodgers communications exec, is VP of PR for Showtime Networks and editor of the baseball blog Dodger Thoughts. This essay is adapted from the 2021 edition of his book "100 Things Dodgers Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die."
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