The memory remains burned into Jaime Jarrín’s memory more than six decades later. The roar. The people, all of these people. He recalls that on that day in 1958, the first year of the franchise in California and three years after immigrating from Ecuador, 65,000 were at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum for a Dodgers game. He was the sports director of the radio station KWKW, but baseball was a stranger to him. He was just a fan that day, one of thousands.
“I’ve never had so many people in [one] Place ahead, ”said Jarrín in Spanish on Tuesday morning. “I remember the shouting, the shouting, the excitement.”
Jarrín went from the stands to the radio booth the next season. For the next 63 years, his calming voice would connect the Dodgers with people who didn’t attend these games, people who hadn’t been in the country, people who had never lived in the United States.
He was the link to Spanish-speaking immigrants, mostly Mexicans, and their children and their children. With every despídala con un beso home run, he became an icon in Southern California and beyond, crossing time zones and borders.
On Tuesday, Major League Baseball’s longest-serving broadcaster, Jarrín announced that it would be retiring after the 2022 season, his 64th season with the Dodgers. Jarrín said he will only name the Dodgers’ 81 home games before moving on.
“I’ve been thinking about the decision for the last few months,” said Jarrín, 85. “I think it’s a good time to end my 64-year vacation because my job is vacation because I like it so much. “
Damian Soriano was thinking of his grandfather when he saw the message.
Soriano, 30, grew up with his Mexican grandparents in South Gate. The family, like so many Spanish-speaking households across the region, would mute the Dodgers’ television broadcasts to listen to Jarrín calling the games. The radio would never sync with the television – Jarrín recounted the pieces before they appeared on the screen – but that didn’t matter.
“I lost my grandfather to COVID in November last year,” said Soriano. “It’s just a whirlwind of emotions. [Jarrín] was more than a voice. He was someone who brought the family together. Just no words to explain, man. “
Jarrín was born in Ecuador and moved to California in 1955 at the age of 20. He first broadcast games in Spanish from Vin Scully’s calls before the broadcaster put him out on the street.
He named three perfect games, 22 no-hitters, 30 World Series and 30 all-star games. He was on the tender for the last All-Star game at Dodger Stadium in 1980 – the Dodgers are slated to host the show in 2022. The next year he served as Fernando Valenzuela’s interpreter and confidante during the rookie pitcher’s 1981 whirlwind season.
“The popularity of Fernando and the Dodgers has been incredible,” said Jarrín. “To the point that radio station ratings were typically 3.4 during those years. We were satisfied with 3.4. But at KTNQ we would get a rating of 8.6. A radio station had never done that before. It was because of Fernando, Fernandomania and the Dodgers. “
Valenzuela is now one of Jarrín’s broadcast partners on the Dodgers’ Spanish-language KTNQ programs, which are also televised at the same time. The two share the booth with Pepe Yñiguez.
Jarrín had played with his son Jorge for the last six seasons before Jorge retired in February. They were the first father-son duo in Major League history on Spanish-language radio.
Jarrín – and the other Dodgers’ broadcast teams – haven’t traveled since 2019, before the COVID-19 pandemic. Jarrín worked on all 162 regular-season games – and five post-season games – in 2019 after his 65-year-old wife, Blanca, died unexpectedly in February. He had planned to take on a minor role to spend time with her, but changed his schedule to keep himself busy after her death.
“On the one hand, 63, 64 years are just numbers,” said Jarrín. “But then you think, ‘Wow, it’s been so many years.’ But I didn’t feel the burden of those years because I did what I loved. “
Retired Dodgers broadcaster Vin Scully (left) jokes with Dodgers Spanish-speaking broadcaster Jaime Jarrin during a ceremony to induct Jarrin into the ring of honor at Dodger Stadium on September 2, 2018.
(Jayne Kamin-Oncea / Getty Images)
Fernandomania is why Juan Ramirez, 43, chose to fight for the Dodgers instead of the Angels who grew up in Orange County. He listened to games in Spanish with his father, Juan Sr., and still listens to Jarrín when possible. Jarrín was more than a broadcaster to him. He was a teacher.
“Honestly, Jarrín is probably why my Spanish has gotten better,” said Ramirez, who co-hosts the BleedLos podcast. “My father says my Spanish is terrible, but listening to Jarrín has helped me improve my Spanish.”
Alex Escalante, 37, was born and raised in the San Fernando Valley before moving to Pennsylvania 20 years ago. He remembers seeing Jarrín and legendary Dodgers scout Mike Brito with his father in a restaurant when he was 10 and Jarrín thanked them for listening.
“I didn’t know who Vin Scully was until I was probably in junior high,” said Escalante. “Growing up, it was always Jaime.”
Escalante is still listening to Jarrín Call games across the country through an app on his phone. He watched the Dodgers win their first World Series in 32 years on Fox national television last October, but logged into YouTube when it was over to hear the familiar voice.
“Once everything has calmed down, I think, ‘I want to know what Jaime said when we won,'” said Escalante. “And that was one of the first things I did.”
Perla Rodriguez grew up in Boyle Heights and watched games on TV with Scully while her Mexican mother listened to Marta Jarrín. Marta had her radio next to the mixer in the kitchen. She tuned in to the game while she prepared dinner and washed the dishes. Rodriguez said her mother died of complications from COVID on January 31. She said that hearing Jaime reminded her of her mother.
Rachele Villanueva recalls one day in 2018 she was driving on the highway with her father in the passenger seat when she thought she recognized a man in front of her. So she ran forward to catch up and realized it was Jarrín.
“My father, who wasn’t very upset, suddenly turned into an excited kid who saw Santa Claus driving down the street,” said Villanueva, a native of Long Beach. “I spent the next 10 minutes keeping up with him just so my father could stare at him in awe. I just kept screaming: ‘¡Se va! Se va! “Se va!” ”
For Rolando Guiterrez, who grew up in the San Gabriel Valley, Jarrín’s voice and sound made him unmistakable. For Richard Mejía, who grew up with Honduran parents in east Los Angeles, Jarrin’s Los Defensores commercials on Univisión and Telemundo contributed to his legend. For Victor Corona, Jarrín made it so easy to hear the game with his grandfather in Mexicali during the summer vacation.
“I mention Vin Scully in the same way as Jaime, because both have been everything to the Dodger organization for so many years,” said former Dodgers owner Peter O’Malley on Tuesday. “And Jaime deserves to be involved when talking about Vin.”
For Polo Ascencio, the Spanish-speaking play-by-play announcer for the St. Louis Cardinals, Jarrín was the model at the booth. Without Jarrín’s example and motivation, Ascencio said, he would not make a living by playing. It was Jarrín who texted Ascencio, a native of Tijuana, in December 2014 praising his work in the Mexican Winter League. Ascencio was ready to quit the next day. He did not do it.
On Tuesday, almost seven years later, he found it difficult to sum up Jarrín’s legacy in a nutshell. Ultimately, Ascencio said, Jarrín’s voice united people, wherever they were, whoever they were.
“I’ll miss that voice,” he said.