From his usual seat high above home plate and in front of his famous microphone, Dodgers Hall of Fame Spanish broadcaster Jaime Jarrin watched every game as his favorite team rolled through the first half of the season.
The grind gave him strength. The grueling schedule provided much needed relief. The radio booth was his sanctuary.
The best team in the National League -- the favorite to win the NL West for what would be their seventh year in a row, if not the World Series altogether -- the Dodgers are coming off one of their best starts in franchise history. Through it all, Jarrin, the steady and elegant Spanish voice of the people for more than 60 years, has endured the most difficult year of his life.
Blanca Jarrin, Jaime’s beloved wife of 65 years, died of a heart attack while visiting him in Arizona less than five months ago. She was 85.
“I’m doing the best I can,” Jarrin, 83, said. “I’m doing what I know.”
The broadcasting legend has found comfort in calling the sport he loves and a newfound purpose off the field. The Jarrin family is in the early stages of establishing the Jaime and Blanca Jarrin Foundation to honor her generous spirit and Jaime’s legacy, while helping Latino students further their education in journalism and law.
The first official meeting of the Jaime and Blanca Jarrin Foundation was a few hours before the All-Star Game on Tuesday. Two days later, he was on the team charter to Boston to start the second half of the season at Fenway Park.
“I’m really very excited about this,” Jarrin said. “The generosity of my wife is immensely rich, and I want to continue the empathy she showed, and I know I can rally honor her memory. I will try my best to be very successful because I know she is in heaven smiling at us. I want Blanca to be very proud of the organization.”
Created in partnership with Los Defensores, a legal services firm in Los Angeles, the goal of the Foundation is to empower and inform the Latino community on legal issues that impact them. The journalism arm of the organization is for students that want to follow in Jarrin’s footsteps. Before he began working for the Dodgers in 1959, Jarrin was a newsman.
“We have to help our Latinos kids who are pursuing a higher education because those are the kids that will be best equipped to answer the challenges that we are constantly bombarded with and to set the record straight,” said Jorge Jarrin, Jaime’s son and Spanish broadcast partner. “This Foundation won’t cure all of the problems, but it’s going to be our part on behalf of my mom and my dad to do something to contribute and help somebody that needs help. It’s very important.”
Earlier this week, the Foundation established a board of directors and filed paperwork with the government for tax purposes. A website is in the works, as is a fundraising event scheduled for November. The Jarrin Foundation hopes to hand out its first scholarships to students this fall.
“We are in the embryonic stage, but off to a good start,” Jorge said. “The goal is to establish a foundation that will live on after my father and my mother and even I’m gone.”
It had been Jaime’s mission to establish the Foundation long before Blanca’s death. The plan for the 2019 season was for him to cut back on travel to spend more time with his wife. The Foundation was on their list of things to-do.
Blanca was Jaime’s best friend, loyal companion and inspiration. After decades of sharing him with baseball, 2019 was going to be her first chance since they were teenage sweethearts in Ecuador to have him mostly for herself. It was customary for Jaime to call her multiple times each day at home and on the road. She often waited for him when he got back from road trips, but this season was going be different.
Together, they would live -- and give.
“Mom was always about generosity and helping,” Jorge said. “She did it with words and she was always asking how much we would give as tip and then encourage us to give somebody that helped us a little more. Be it the guy who collected trash or parked cars, car washer or anyone, she wanted to let people know they were appreciated and it’s something that really stayed with me and our family.”
Life changed forever when Blanca visited Jaime in late February. Their plan was to drive from their Arizona residence near the Dodgers’ complex in Glendale, Arizona to Santa Fe, New Mexico. A few days earlier, the couple picked out another Arizona home because the family wanted to move. Blanca just adored the area, especially during the offseason. But during a stop at a hotel in Flagstaff, Blanca lost consciousness in the early morning of Feb. 28. She died a few hours later.
The day after Blanca’s death, Jaime was spotted back at the Dodgers’ Spring Training complex in Glendale, Ariz. He returned to work as soon as he could, in part because he said legendary Dodgers broadcaster Vin Scully told him that it would help. Jarrin immediately told the Dodgers he was going back on the road full-time, calling each of the club's 162 games.
“The pain, the loss, it’s like waves that comes in and out,” Jaime said. “Some days feel really sad and sometimes you try to think positively and that she’s in heaven and not suffering. Baseball has helped me, 100 percent. I would go crazy if I did not have this. Imagine being home alone? I can’t.”
There are still tears shed during the drives to the ballpark and sometimes in the press box dining rooms across the NL, but there are no sounds of grief during Jarrin’s broadcasts. It helps having his son in the booth with him. His other son, Mauricio, stays with Jaime at home in Los Angeles.
Arizona remains a bittersweet place for the Jarrins. The family sold their first house near the Dodgers’ facility and bought the house Blanca picked. Jaime plans to spend part of the winter in the home outside of Phoenix, because that’s what his wife wanted to do.
Jaime bought televisions for each room of the new home during the Dodgers’ last trip to Arizona at the end of June, but the house remains mostly empty.
“It’s sad she’s not here to be a part of it, picking out things and setting things the way she wanted it to be and making the house a home,” Jorge said. “Life is just not the same and it never will be. However, we are really pleased and happy we have something like baseball to help keep a routine and some semblance of normalcy. The Foundation is born out the legacy of my father’s hard work and the generosity of my mom’s love for other people, so that’s what we are focusing on to help us and others.”
Jesse Sanchez, who has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2001, is a national reporter based in Phoenix. Follow him on Twitter @JesseSanchezMLB and Facebook.