SAN DIEGO -- With the retirement of Vin Scully on Sunday, the title of longest-tenured broadcaster in baseball passes from one Dodger to another.Jaime Jarrin, a Hall of Famer whose stylish voice and keen insight has taught baseball to generations of Spanish-speaking Dodgers fans, is finishing up his 58th season
SAN DIEGO -- With the retirement of Vin Scully on Sunday, the title of longest-tenured broadcaster in baseball passes from one Dodger to another.
Jaime Jarrin, a Hall of Famer whose stylish voice and keen insight has taught baseball to generations of Spanish-speaking Dodgers fans, is finishing up his 58th season at the microphone. He intends to fulfill the final two seasons of his contract, and maybe more.
"The ceremony the other night [honoring Scully at Dodger Stadium] gave me a chance to think how fortunate I've been to do what I love to do this long," said Jarrin, 80. "My longevity is because I love the game, and my wife, Blanca, has supported me. Vin has been so good to me, so close to me. He helped me so much. I will complete 60 years and then I will see. After that, maybe I take some trips off, as long as Blanca says it's OK. I never thought it would last this long. Never."
In the 2005 book, "Voices of Summer," the trailblazing Jarrin was named baseball's all-time best Spanish-language broadcaster based on "longevity, continuity, network coverage, kudos, language, popularity, persona, voice, knowledge and miscellany."
Jarrin's legacy was cemented by his role as interpreter during Fernandomania. Fernando Valenzuela's sensational rookie season in 1981 not only broadened baseball's reach into his native Mexico, but through Jarrin's words to Spanish-speaking nations around the world.
"I thank God for [late Dodgers owner] Walter O'Malley, who understood the demographics of Southern California and the huge Spanish-speaking community there and the need, as he put it, to broadcast the game in their own language," said Jarrin.
"When we started, that audience was eight percent of the fans at Dodger Stadium, now it's 46 percent. Fernando played a huge part in bringing in those people. His charisma, his talent. He created so many new baseball fans. He corralled them and I tried to teach them the game. That was my duty. Honestly, I think I am doing a public service to the community, giving them entertainment in their own language."
Jarrin studied philosophy, letters, journalism and broadcasting at Central University of Ecuador in Quito, came to the United States at age 16, saw the Brooklyn Dodgers win the 1955 World Series and fell in love with America's pastime.
He went to work for Los Angeles Spanish radio station KWKW, where he was news and sports director when the Dodgers moved west in 1958. KWKW bought the Spanish-language rights to Dodgers games and Jarrin became the lead play-by-play voice, although for the first six years he did not travel and instead translated road games while listening to the English broadcasts.
His current broadcast partner is his son, Jorge.
"It is really the biggest blessing, to have him with me working with me," said Jarrin. "It is really very special. I feel very, very fortunate."
Jarrín has called three perfect games, 21 no-hitters, 28 World Series, 28 All-Star Games and 32 postseason series. He also has called more than 30 championship boxing matches, received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and was inducted into the California Broadcasters Association Hall of Fame, the California Sports Broadcasters Hall of Fame and the Hispanic Heritage Baseball Museum.
Among his vast honors is the Southern California Sports Broadcasters and Associated Press Television-Radio Association; the Southern California Sports Broadcasters Association's President's Award; the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists Media and Entertainment Excellence Award; and the highest award given by the National Association of Hispanic Journalists.
Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2001.